The first step is getting tested. Visit the Home Sleep Test page of this website for more information.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea through a sleep test your doctor will prescribe treatment. The most common form of treatment and considered the "Gold Standard" for treating sleep apnea by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine is Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy. Other treatments include, positional therapy (some people only snore when they sleep on their back), weight loss, surgery (to remove enlarged tonsils or other tissue that may be blocking your nose or throat restricting your airway) or an oral appliance. An oral appliance is worn during sleep and keeps the jaw slightly forward of its usual rest position. This small change is enough for some people to keep the airway open during sleep. Oral appliances are sometimes used as co-therapy with PAP therapy.
There are three common forms of PAP therapy:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
- Auto-PAP (APAP)
- Bi-Level (also known as BiPAP)
A CPAP is a machine that applies a constant stream of pressurized air through flexible tube to the throat, working as an air splint that helps keep the airway open during sleep. Studies have shown it also improves lung function, decreases the work of breathing during sleep, and improves heart function in people with obstructive sleep apnea. Studies have also shown that not only does CPAP therapy reverse or correct many of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, such as sleepiness and snoring, but it also decreases the risks of associated conditions, including lower blood pressure, decreasing insulin resistance, and lowering the risk of heart attack, stroke and epilepsy in people with obstructive sleep apnea.
While the standard CPAP delivers a constant level of air pressure, an APAP takes into account that the need for air pressure can vary throughout the night depending on sleep position, stage of sleep and other factors. The APAP machine measures how much air pressure is needed to keep the throat open and adjusts accordingly.
As opposed to both CPAP and APAP, a Bi-PAP machine has two levels of adjustable pressure: higher pressure while inhaling, and lower pressure while exhaling.
At Classic SleepCare we usually fit patients with APAP machines and heated humidification/heated tubing (this helps prevent a dry throat). We work closely with you be therapy-compliant in order to get the health and lifestyle benefits from your therapy. If we find you are “fighting the machine” trying to breath out, we will refer you back to your doctor recommending an upgrade to a Bi-Level machine in order to alleviate that discomfort and so encourage use of the equipment and better ensure therapy compliance.