Frequently Asked Questions
Sleep apnea, also spelled sleep apnoea, is a sleep disorder in which pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep occur more often than normal. Each pause can last for a few seconds to a few minutes and they happen many times a night. In the most common form, this follows loud snoring. There may be a choking or snorting sound as breathing resumes. Because the disorder disrupts normal sleep, those affected may experience sleepiness or feel tired during the day.
Sleep apnea affects 1 to 6% of adults. It affects males about twice as often as females. While people at any age can be affected, it occurs most commonly among those 55 to 60+ years old.
Signs and symptoms
- breathing stopping and starting
- making gasping, snorting or choking noises
- waking up a lot
- loud snoring
During the day, you may also:
- feel very tired
- find it hard to concentrate
- have mood swings
- have a headache when you wake up
Causes of sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea happens if your airways become too narrow while you sleep. This stops you breathing properly.
Sleep apnoea has been linked to:
- having a large neck
- getting older – although children and young adults can also get it
- having other family members with sleep apnoea
- smoking and drinking alcohol
- having large tonsils or adenoids
- sleeping on your back
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common form of sleep apnea, sets off a chain reaction of health conditions that include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure – the list goes on and on.
Treatments for sleep apnea
A CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.
It can help:
- Improve your breathing while you sleep by stopping your airways getting too narrow
- Improve the quality of your sleep and help you feel less tired
- Reduce the risk of problems linked to sleep apnoea (like high blood pressure)
Using a CPAP machine may feel strange or awkward initially, but try to keep using it.
It works best if you use it every night.
Firstly, your GP must refer you to a sleep specialist/sleep clinic.
After a discussion with the sleep clinic, they will decide whether a sleep study is needed, which in turn will determine whether treatment is required.
Sleep studies are performed in both public and private clinics, with varying waiting times. Sleep studies are generally carried out in hospital and may take an overnight visit.
If you are diagnosed with Sleep apnea you will be told what pressure you need to set your machine at.
There is no definitive answer to this question, but some people feel the benefits after their first night, some take weeks before they notice a difference.
You have probably been struggling with Sleep Apnea for some time, so don’t worry if you don’t feel a difference immediately. Be patient.
If you have any history of the following: broken nose, deviated septum, frequent nasal congestion, frequent rhinitis/sinusitis or general problems with a stuffed/blocked nose, it is almost certain you will be better off with a full-face mask.
Neither mask type is ‘better’ – it is very much a matter of which suits you best, one mask may be suitable for one and not for another – it is really trial and error. We are here to give you advice.
Yes. Your need for CPAP is usually based on physical factors at the time of diagnosis. If there is weight loss, the need for CPAP may be revised.
The majority of Sleep Apnea sufferers are overweight to some degree, but not all.
When correctly used, CPAP is very quiet and barely noticeable in a bedroom. It is not silent – there is a sound from the machine as it is effectively an air pump, and a slight sound from the mask as every mask has a vent through which air is released.
At higher pressure settings there is more sound as there is more pressure in the mask and the machine is working harder.
CPAP will only be loud when masks is either poorly fitting or worn out, and the noise results from mask leak.
Yes, in order to prevent apnea episodes and obstruction of your upper airways, you need to wear your CPAP every time you sleep and during naps.
Your sleep apnea symptoms will return. CPAP treatment is effective only when you use it.
This is something you will need to check directly with your Insurance Company.