For over twenty years I have had the privilege of helping patients with their respiratory needs. As a trained Respiratory Therapist, I have spent many years in a hospital setting helping patients overcome their respiratory challenges. The leading cause of death in the hospital is infection usually caused by staff, patients, and visitors not washing their hands. Respiratory supplies were changed every forty-eight hours to help prevent respiratory infections. When I got into home health I recognized that patients were not changing their CPAP supplies. I discovered that a lot of patients did not know that most insurance companies would pay for these new supplies. They were very thankful; some of them had never received a new CPAP mask or supplies. Thus the Supply Program was born!
Sleep Apnea can be best defined as someone who stops breathing while sleeping. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association this affects more than twelve million Americans alone! There are three types of Sleep Apnea: Central, Mixed, and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The most common form of Sleep Apnea is OSA, which is caused by an obstruction or collapse of the airway. For example, the tongue, palate, orepiglottis can obstruct the airway. Central Sleep Apnea is caused when the brain fails to tell the muscles to breathe. Mixed Sleep Apnea is a mixture of both Central and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Untreated Sleep Apnea can cause Congestive Heart Failure, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Headaches, Weight Gain, and Motor Vehicle Accidents. Since most people are Sleep Health not familiar with the symptoms of Sleep Apnea it is most often overlooked and undiagnosed.
A Sleep Test is the most common tool used to diagnose Sleep Apnea. During the sleep test usually half the night will be spent diagnosing whether the patient does have Sleep Apnea. The second portion of the test will be spent using CPAP equipment to document any improvement and measure its effectiveness. The most common test for symptoms is the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This is not a diagnosis but simply a guideline to indicate to your physician that you may have Sleep Apnea and may require a sleep study. If you suspect that you or a loved one may suffer from Sleep Apnea try answering the following questions:
How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the situations described below, in contrast to feeling just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you haven’t done some of these things recently try to work out how they would have affected you. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation: