So you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, now what? The next steps can feel a little overwhelming. What kind of therapy is best for me? What do I want? What kind of long-term treatment can I live with? We know you have tons of questions about what to do going forward.
The reality is that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy is proven to be the most effective treatment for most types and levels of sleep apnea. It may take a little bit of time to familiarize yourself with the CPAP machine and learn how you can wear it most comfortably while still getting the treatment you need. However, you can’t get used to something if you don’t use it--or refuse to use it properly.
So let’s talk about the big issue in CPAP Therapy.
The Biggest Issue: Compliance
With most treatments for any ailment, following instructions and prescribed treatments is the number one factor in solving almost any condition. An infection won’t heal if you don’t take your antibiotics properly, and you sleep apnea won’t get better if you don’t use your CPAP properly either.
The way a CPAP works is to provide a continuous flow of air pressure to help open up blockages in your airway. These blockages are what cause sleep apnea and the large number of long term, serious side effects that can come with it. When you wear your CPAP machine and use it on the prescribed settings, you will prevent apnea events during sleep so your body can rest and heal as it is meant to.
However, there are many people who either refuse to use the equipment correctly or even refuse to use it altogether. Even though it has been proven that those who use their CPAP therapy appropriately receive great benefits, this is sometimes not enough to reinforce the need for nightly CPAP therapy.
What is the Problem with Compliance?
According to one study, the biggest deterrent to CPAP compliance seems to be a bad first impression or experience with your CPAP machine. While you may be frustrated by the idea of having to change your sleeping routines, it’s important to remember that your sleep will improve if you use your CPAP properly.
The key is to find a way to wear the CPAP in a way that works for you. Whether you opt for a different kind of mask or decide which kind of pressure machine you prefer (e.g. AutoPAP or BiPAP), there are many ways to adapt to your CPAP treatment so you can get the incredible benefits that come with restful, rejuvenative sleep.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, be sure to talk to your doctor or patient care representative about the benefits of CPAP therapy. Education on the positive of CPAP therapy, as well as tips and tricks to acclimate to the system, will give you motivation to adjust and adapt your habits. Plus, using the machine properly will lead to a more comfortable experience, preventing you from cutting your treatment off because you are frustrated.
Plus, it’s important to comply in both the frequency of treatment as well as the quality. CPAP machines need to be properly maintained and kept clean. If you are breathing in bacteria because of an unclean hose or a mask/hose tear, then you are not getting the treatment you should. Complying with CPAP treatment means keeping your unit clean and operational so it can do its job while you sleep. Be sure to engage in routine CPAP maintenance and replace your CPAP mask roughly every 6 months.
Medical Professionals: How To Help Your Patients
If you are a medical professional, the same rules apply. Be sure to have frank discussions with your sleep apnea patients about the innumerable benefits of CPAP therapy as well as the long term health problems they can avoid by consistently using their machine. Education is the number one way to avoid compliance problems for your patients and ensure they can experience a better quality of life.
Getting any kind of diagnosis for a sleep disorder can lead to a lot of questions about treatments and future health concerns. However, it’s important to remember that treatments and therapies exist to help you live a better life, especially when it comes to sleep. Sleep is an important factor to our overall health and happiness. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, be sure to comply with your treatment parameters. If you believe that this treatment will not work for you, be sure to talk to your doctor or patient care representative before discontinuing treatment on your own.