Sleep Apnea is a Chronic Condition. Following These Simple Steps Can Help Ensure Long-Term Success!
Sleep apnea is a chronic health condition that affects more than 22 million Americans. If left untreated, it can lead to a variety of serious health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, or obesity.
Robert Miller, Apria Healthcare’s Vice President of Sleep Business, states, “There is good news: sleep apnea can be successfully treated.”
Studies show sleep apnea treatment can improve your overall health by:
- Increasing energy and alertness
- Improving blood pressure levels
- Decreasing the risk of heart attack or stroke
- Reducing daytime sleepiness
- Producing a better mood and attitude
Apria is a leader in the management of sleep apnea, and people often ask us what they can do to achieve long-term success with their treatment.
Here’s what we tell them…
Step 1: Work Closely with Your Doctor and Healthcare Team
The treatment of sleep apnea is a journey—and these are the people who will be with your every step of the way. Ask your doctor and healthcare team to answer questions you have, provide information you need, and customize a treatment plan specifically for you.
Step 2: Ensure an Accurate Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
If your doctor and healthcare team suspect you have sleep apnea, the first step in the journey is an accurate diagnosis. That’s why your doctor may recommend a sleep study.
Generally, there are two types:
Polysomnogram (PSG): This study is done in a sleep lab or sleep clinic over the course of one night. (It also can be conducted during the day for people who work at night.) As you sleep, special equipment records your brain waves, oxygen levels, heart rhythm, eye and leg movements, and airflow.
Home Sleep Test (HST): This is a modified type of sleep study that can be done in the comfort of your home. However, it records fewer body functions than a PSG. So, if you have an underlying health condition, your doctor may recommend a PSG sleep study.
Sleep study results will reveal valuable information about your condition:
- How often you wake up
- How long you spend in each sleep stage
- If you stop breathing or have trouble breathing
- If you snore
- Your body position and limb movements
- Unusual brain activity patterns
With this information, your doctor can prescribe the most effective sleep apnea treatment.
Step 3: Stick with Your Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are various sleep apnea treatments available. Your doctor will prescribe the one best for you. For your therapy to succeed, it’s critical that you follow your doctor’s recommendations every day.
Treatment with lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes are the important first step to help you get a good night’s rest. These include:
- Developing healthy sleeping habits
- Following a heart-healthy diet
- Losing weight, if applicable
- Stopping smoking
- Creating an exercise routine
- Not using alcohol or sleeping pills
- Treating allergies, especially nasal allergies
- Changing your sleeping position
Treatment with CPAP or BiPAP
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is an effective, proven treatment for sleep apnea. Apria’s Robert Miller adds, “That’s why CPAP is considered the 'gold standard' of sleep apnea care.”
CPAP involves wearing a mask that fits comfortably over your nose or mouth while you sleep. The mask is connected to a machine by your bed that provides a constant, quiet flow of air to keep your airways open so you can breathe—and sleep—normally.
Some people benefit from an alternative to CPAP called BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure). Both require a face mask and tubing connected to a device that pumps air to help you breathe more normally. But BiPAP delivers pressurized air at two alternating levels: one level when you inhale, another when you exhale. So it is more like natural breathing, which many people find more comfortable.
Step 4: Choose a DME Provider Carefully
If your doctor and healthcare team determine that a CPAP or BIPAP machine is your best treatment option, you will be given a prescription plus a list of durable medical equipment (DME) providers. The DME provider is an important member of your healthcare team. That’s why it’s important to select one who is an expert in sleep apnea treatment.
At Apria, we have Sleep Coaches who will help you with set-up and understand how to use your CPAP/BiPAP machine. They will also explain how to clean and maintain your machine, and how to order supplies.
Step 5: Make Sure Your Prescription Is Up to Date
Like many of the products you buy at a grocery store, your sleep apnea prescriptions have expiration dates. Adds Robert Miller, “It’s critical that your prescriptions are renewed every 12 months. That’s how to ensure you get the sleep apnea supplies you need to make your therapy a success.”
Once again, your DME provider can help with this. Apria’s Sleep Coaches automatically notify you if your prescription is going to expire to give you time to get it renewed by your doctor.
Here’s to Success!
Treating sleep apnea can be challenging. But working with your doctor and healthcare team and following the simple steps outlined here, you’ll be better able to get a good night’s rest—night after night. And feel better every single day.