When your doctor tells you that you need to use a sleep apnea machine, don’t look on it as a jail sentence. It’s a relief! You’re finally going to be able to get a good night’s sleep. You’re going to wake up in the morning and feel rested and refreshed for a change. No more daytime sleepiness or nighttime sweats. Say goodbye to that nighttime heartburn, too, and that swelling in your legs. Your morning and evening headaches will disappear, and best of all, no more snoring to beat the band!
Over 30 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and the dangers that often accompany it. Anytime you skip breathing it’s not healthy, but the larger risk is that it can lead to higher blood pressure. And high blood pressure can then lead to fatal strokes and heart attacks. So be happy that your doctor has prescribed a sleep apnea machine. This machine will help restore your regular, healthy breathing and reduce these risks associated with sleep apnea.
Generally, you have to have a prescription from your doctor to get your sleep apnea machine. They’re usually expensive, too, but most insurance companies will cover the cost, so don’t let that hold you back from getting one. Or, maybe you know someone who used one of the machines in the past. Are you afraid to get one because theirs was so big and bulky and loud? Well, the good news is, with recent advances in technology, the newer models of sleep apnea machines are much quieter, much smaller, and the masks are much more comfortable and easier to sleep in. You’ll soon be sleeping like a baby.
A sleep apnea machine also called a CPAP machine for Continuous Positive Air Pressure, is a small electric blower that pushes air into a hose. The hose is attached to a mask that you wear, and the air is forced into your airway. Now don’t worry. It’s not like a cannon blast or anything. It’s just a gentle stream of air to help keep your breathing regularly. Most machines have adjustable pressure levels, both for the air that you inhale and the breath that you exhale.
The scariest part for most people is usually the mask. So let me tell you right up front – they all come with quick release straps. Just one little flick, and it’s off. OK? Now, there are a few other important things you should know about the mask, too, like, make sure it’s not too loose.
If the mask is too loose, it won’t seal properly and you’ll lose that precious air pressure that you need so badly. But if it’s too tight, then it may warp or crack and you could lose air pressure that way, too. You need it to fit just right. There are also straps to help hold the mask on and you want them to be adjusted so that the mask stays snug no matter which position you sleep in.
Your doctor will advise you, too, on whether you need a full mask, that covers the nose and the mouth, or a mask that only covers your nose. The most important thing to remember, though, is to use your sleep apnea machine, as your doctor prescribes, to get that good night’s sleep you deserve.