Managing Sleep Apnea: Your Guide to Dealing with the Sleep Disorder
Think you have sleep apnea? Have you already been diagnosed? As a disorder, sleep apnea can be very confusing. No worries, we’ve got you covered.
Some quick facts to know:
It’s not uncommon:
Experts believe 46 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (when the soft tissue in your throat blocks your airway, often leading to loud snoring) is the most common form of the condition.
Learn the signs and symptoms
There are many different symptoms of sleep apnea. Here are a few:
- Loud and frequent snoring
- Choking sounds (as reported by others) 1f Morning headaches
- Memory loss
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Problems concentrating
Learn the risk factors (these might surprise you):
Large neck size as risk factor:
For men, a neck size of 17 inches or larger; for women, a neck size of 16 inches or larger
- Being male
- High blood pressure
- Extra weight
- Older age:
While sleep apnea can occur at any age, it is more commonly found in older adults.
- Family members with the disorder
- Drinking alcohol or smoking
Internet research can only get you so far. Your doctor is the expert and the first resource for any questions you have. He or she can tell you more about available treatments and order necessary tests. This seems like an obvious step, but it’s an important one. Here are some good questions to ask:
- How serious are my symptoms?
- Should I see another doctor or specialist?
- What kinds of tests do you recommend, if any?
- What treatment would be most effective?
- How quickly can I expect to experience an improvement?
Common Treatments: Lifestyle Changes
There are a couple different lifestyle changes doctors recommend to treat sleep apnea.
- Weight management: As mentioned, thick necks are a common risk factor – something overweight people are more likely to have.
- Quit smoking
- Exercise more often: this seems like a frequent admonishment, but with sleep apnea, exercise can make a difference.
Common Treatments: Surgery
Don’t worry! This is usually a last resort for sleep apnea sufferers. There are a couple different surgical procedures that can take place:
- Removing tonsils or excess tissue at the back of the throat
- Jaw reconstruction
- Rod implants
Common Treatments: CPAP
Last but certainly not least, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP is a machine that keeps airways open, allowing you to breathe easier. Each night, CPAP users attach the mask to their face right before sleeping. Most individuals keep their CPAPs at their bedside.
Clean your CPAP
If you take a moment to think about moisture living in CPAP masks and equipment, it’s a little concerning. Then think about where that mask goes, every night. Even more concerning.
It only takes one droplet of water in CPAPs for dangerous mold spores, mildew and bacteria to grow. These pathogens can lead to many health problems including (but not limited to):
- Difficulty breathing
- Chronic coughing
- Respiratory-related conditions
It’s crucial that CPAP masks are cleaned each and every night. Getting into a habit is easy — take off your CPAP in the morning, and immediately clean it. There are a few different ways you can go about cleaning your device, one of which includes using special soap and warm water for at least 10 minutes. This and other cleaning methods can be time consuming, and that’s where the SoClean comes in.
The SoClean is designed with CPAP users’ health and time in mind. It uses activated oxygen to kill 99% of CPAP germs in the mask, hose, and reservoir. Just pop CPAP equipment in each morning and it works its (proven — and clean) antibacterial magic.
We know, we’re great with puns. But truly, relax and take a deep breathe. Know you’re not alone: sleep apnea is a treatable condition that millions of Americans suffer from. Having read through this presentation and researching the disorder, you’ve already taken a crucial first step. Now take the second and the third. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to a happier (and more restful) life.
You’re now officially a sleep apnea expert. Want to test your skills? Take our quiz and find out how much you’ve learned (link above).