Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that occurs when you regularly stop breathing during sleep. Apneas occur when the airway temporaily collapses. This happens when the muscles inside the throat relax as you sleep. The tongue can aslo fall back and block the airway.
There are diseases that can coexist with OSA. According to the National Institute of Health, if OSA goes untreated you are at risk for these diseases. It is not entirely clear which comes first, however, we do know that treating OSA can help reduce symptoms of many comormidities. OSA has been directly linked to the following comorbidities.
The most common recommended treatment used for OSA is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). CPAP therapy is a non-invasive treatment that prevents the airway from collapsing during sleep. The CPAP unitsends air through tubing to a mask to open the airway. This positive air pressure helps hold open the airway, eliminating the apneas from occurring and allowing your body to get the oxygen that it needs.
The amount of air pressure needed is determined by the severity of your apneas that was observed during your sleep study. By preventing the apneas from occurring, CPAP restores regular breathing and relives the symptoms such as loud snoring and frequent daytime sleepiness. CPAP is considered the Gold standard and is considered the most reliable and effective therapy for patients with moderate to severe OSA.
Another alternative is an Oral Appliance. This product may help those patients that cannot tolerate CPAP or have mild OSA,
but still need treatment.
The following forms detail frequently asked questions about the sleep studies we perform.
What is a Polysomnogram?
A polysomnogram is a study that measures bodily functions during sleep. Each study will vary depending on the individual case, and some of the measurements taken may include:
Brain waves (sensors on the scalp/head)
Heart beats (sensors/patches on the chest)
Eye movements (sensors above and below the eyes, they do not touch the eyes)
Muscle tension (sensors on the chin)
Leg movements (sensors/patches on the lower leg
Breathing (sensors near the nose and mouth, via nasal cannula)
Breathing effort and movement (small elastic bands placed around the chest and stomach)
Blood Oxygen level (small sensor attached to the finger)
Why do we record all these sensors?
During sleep the body functions differently in many ways than while awake. Abnormal sleep can disturb daytime activities, and sometimes involve a risk to basic health.
How can I sleep with all these sensors on me?
Surprisingly, most people sleep very well. The body sensors are applied so that you can turn and move during your sleep. Generally, you will not be aware that you are wearing the sensors after their applied. Our staff tries to make the environment comfortable and as similar as possible to your home surroundings. Many patients report that they slept better here than at home.
Will any of the sensors hurt?
No. Sometimes, in cleaning the area where the sensor will be applied, there can be mild and temporary skin irritations. You may also feel a sensation of warmth where the oxygen measuring device contacts the skin. However, these generally do not cause any significant discomfort.
What is CPAP?
CPAP is an abbreviation for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is a device used to treat snoring and OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) by providing pressure support for the walls of the airway during sleep. Patient’s on CPAP use a mask that either fits over the mouth (oral type) in the nose (pillow type), around the nose (nasal type) or around both the nose and mouth (full-face type).
Why do we use CPAP?
CPAP has been the gold standard for treatment of sleep apnea since the mid 1980’s. Prior to CPAP, patients received a tracheotomy. CPAP is a non-invasive treatment and it only takes one overnight study to titrate.
Why do we need an overnight study?
The pressure that is needed to eliminate the OSA is different for everyone. Generally, the pressures range from +5 to +15 cm of water pressure. A physician cannot tell just by looking at the patient what pressure he/she will need. At the Sleep Center we start out at the lower pressure and increase until breathing, oxygen level becomes normal, and snoring has been eliminated. If you’ve had a previous sleep study, everything will be exactly the same (except for the CPAP). This includes the same electrodes, same bed and waking times.
How can I sleep with the CPAP mask on me?
While the idea of wearing such a mask all night long might seem unappealing, most patients learn to use CPAP quickly and adapt to wearing the mask and using the device whenever they sleep. The benefits of having your OSA controlled seem to far outweigh any inconveniences. It does, however, take some time getting use to the mask and the positive airway pressure. With the mask on, you will still be able to move about and sleep in any position.
Will CPAP hurt?
No. Sometimes patients who are allergic to latex materials may develop a rash over a period of time. If this occurs, please contact the physician, or Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider.
Will I stay on CPAP the rest of my life?
This is for the physician and you to discuss. There are patients who wear CPAP for a couple of months, while others find it necessary for a lifelong use.
How long will it take to get CPAP at home?
After the physician has reviewed your study he/she will have a DME provider contact you and set you up with the CPAP. The DME provider will instruct you on usage, cleaning and the overall care of the device and mask. The CPAP pressure will be set based on the findings of the CPAP titration study you are undergoing.