Sleep Apnea-My Story
Starting My Sleep Apnea Journey
I have been tired for years. It isn't just the kind of tired at the end of the day. It is an over the top exhaustion that is there from the moment that I get up to the time that I go to bed. I never seemed to catch up on my sleep.
Then I would wake up out of a sound sleep with my eyes wide open. This would happen several times a night. I would find myself staring at the clock by my bed stand. Sometimes I would get up because I was wide awake and felt like I needed to move around for a while.
So, at a yearly physical, I spoke to my doctor about all of this. She was concerned about it, so my journey with sleep apnea began.
Who Has Sleep Apnea? Do You?
So many people have sleep apnea. As I went through my diagnosis and therapy, I found out more people had it then I imagined. Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea?
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where your breathing often starts and stops while you sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form of the disorder where the throat muscles relax. Central sleep apnea is where your brain does not send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing. Complex sleep apnea occurs when both obstructive and central sleep apnea are both present.
Loud snoring is the most common symptom that you might think of when it comes to sleep apnea, Other symptoms can include gasping for air while sleeping, dry mouth, morning headache, insomnia, and daytime sleepiness.
More Sleep Apnea Information
- Sleep Apnea: Types, Common Causes, Risk Factors, Effects on Health
Learn more from WebMD about sleep apnea, a disruptive and potentially dangerous sleep disorder.
- Sleep Apnea Information for Individuals | Sleepapnea.org
If you have sleep apnea or think you do, this is a good information source for all kinds of questions about your situation
- Sleep Apnea | National Sleep Foundation
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Learn how to cope with this sleep-related breathing disorder.
- Sleep apnea - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
Snoring loudly could be an indication of sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep.
How To Get Tested For Sleep Apnea
If your physician feels after a consultation and examination, that there is a possibility you may have sleep apnea disorder, he/she will order a sleep study for further evaluation.
Home sleep study tests are available and are one of the easiest ways to get your sleep apnea diagnosis. These tests measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and breathing patterns.
This was the test that my physician ordered for me. It was a simple two night test. The test machine was sent to me. The directions were simple to follow, I attached one line around my chest, one piece wrapped around my index finger and one had a line that went in my nose like an oxygen line. All the lines attached to a recorder that wrapped around my arm with velcro. While it was a bit ackward, the test was not bad at all.
Once I finished the two days, the equipment was sent back to the company for analysis. My doctor received the information within a couple of days. The whole process was very fast.
The other test for sleep apnea is called nocturnal polysomnography. It is generally done in a sleep center. You are hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.It gives more information than the home sleep test does. Some folks find it difficult to sleep in that enviornment.
The Effects Of Sleep Apnea
Treatment Options For Sleep Apnea
After your sleep apnea test, your physician will work with you to decide the best course of treatment depending on what type of sleep apnea you have as well as how serious your apnea is.
Some mild apneas can benefit if you are able to lose some weight. Though my apnea was not considered mild, I am working on that aspect of my health to make it better. It never hurts to lose a few pounds.
The most common form of treatment is the Continuous Positive Airway pressure or CPAP. With CPAP (SEE-pap), the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring.
A mask is worn over the face and nose, just over the nose, or with a nose cushion. Some folks find the masks restrictive and difficult to use. It might take you a few different masks till you find the one that is right for you. Always talk to your physician before you stop using your CPAP machine.
You need to use the machine at least 6 hours to be effective,
If using a CPAP machine continues to be a problem for you, you might be able to use a different type of airway pressure device that automatically adjusts the pressure while you're sleeping (auto-CPAP). Units that supply bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) also are available. These provide more pressure when you inhale and less when you exhale.
Another option is wearing an oral appliance designed to keep your throat open. CPAP is more reliably effective than oral appliances, but oral appliances might be easier to use. Some are designed to open your throat by bringing your jaw forward, which can sometimes relieve snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.
For me, the CPAP machine has been working and I have noticed that I am getting better less disturbed sleep most nights.
Finding The Right Mask-Crucial Part Of Your Therapy
So, when you start your therapy set up with your supplier/ provider, it is very important to understand options regarding the different types of masks that are available. Finding the right mask that will be comfortable for you is an important step in staying compliant and using your therapy to its best advantage.
Everyone has a different prospective on how the different types of masks will work best for them. For example, since I am a little claustrophobic, I knew the full face mask which covers the mouth and nose would not be a workable option for me.
I chose the mask that just covers the nose, which is workable for me for now. This is a mask that covers the entire nose, including the bridge of the nose, but not the mouth.
There are other mask options that just cover the nose. There are two types available one has little "pillows" that go into the nostril and the other simply covers the nose itself.
When you are setting up your therapy, try several different masks and decide which one is most comfortable for you.
Every manufacturer has it's own line of masks. The best mask for you is the one that is comfortable and one that you will use. It may be a little trial and error till you find the best mask for your sleep.
Suggested Supply Replacement Schedule
Medicare And Insurance Certification
Your physician and the supplier will work with Medicare and your insurance to make sure that the equipment that you need for your sleep apnea is covered once you get a confirmed diagnosis.
Most insurance including Medicare and Medicaid cover the CPAP or BIPAP mahine as a durable medical device.Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and your physician orders your equipment, your provider will work with you to explain how your insurance will cover your equipment. In some cases you will be required to use a specific supplier in your network.
You will initially get the machine and one set up of supplies to get your started. Co-payments and deductables may apply, depending on your policy
In most cases the machine is rented for a certain period of time specified by your insurance carrier. After that time, you will own the machine. And your supplier will supply you with replacements on your hoses, masks and filters.
Most insurance companies follow the Medicare guidelines for renting and paying for the equipment. They start as a rental for between 3-13 months before you own it.
3- 4 month rental and then own (PPO)
10 month rental then own (most HMO and some PPO)
13 month rent and then own (Medicare and other government insurance)
The other requirement to keep this machine is that you have to prove that you are using the machine on a regular basis, For Medicare patients like me, that means that I had to prove that I was using the machine at least 4 hours a day for a 22 day period out of 30 days. Since most equipment have modems and chips, it is easy to certify that information. Once you meet the requirement, you have an appointment with your doctor who certifies that you have.
The reason that you go through the certification is simple. Your insurance carrier does not want to pay for something that you do not use. I have certified and completed the process, it was easy.
The bottom line is once you get your diagnosis , you will be provided information on how and when your insurance carrier will cover the equipment and supplies, You will be also informed of any costs that might be your responsibility.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2019 Linda F Correa