1.First steps to diagnosis
The best thing to do is to see your local doctor or general practitioner (GP). If your doctor suspects you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, he or she may be refer you to a sleep clinic or a sleep specialist who will carry out a sleep study to determine whether you have sleep apnea.
2. How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep Clinics will diagnose via a sleep study called a polysomnogram or polysomnography test (PSG). These studies often require an overnight stay in a hospital or sleep laboratory. Alternatively, you may be suitable to conduct a home sleep test where you can be rigged up with a monitoring device and take the study overnight in the comfort of your home. Many specialist clinics, pharmacies and sleep physicians offer this service. If you are unsure what the best option is for you, your doctor will be best to advise you.
3. I have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, what now?
If you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea it is important that you consult your doctor or sleep specialist to determine the best treatment option for you. There are several treatment options available including:
- Lifestyle/Health changes
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure)
- Oral Appliances- Mandibular advancement splints
Considered the ‘gold standard’ the most common treatment method for Sleep Apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). If your doctor or sleep specialist decides that this is the best treatment option for you, you will then choose a suitable CPAP machine and mask that works best for you.
4. How does PAP or CPAP therapy work?
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is the most common treatment for OSA. CPAP machines will consist of three main parts:
- The air pump/machine
- A mask that covers nostrils, nose or mouth
- An air tube
The CPAP machine is set to a pressure that you require and takes air from the room and gently pressurises it. The air then blows through the tube and mask into the throat so that the pressure from the air can keep the throat open while you are asleep.
Ensuring a proper fitting mask will limit the potential of air leakage and will optimise your treatment.
CPAP will reduce sleep apnea episodes allowing for a restful night’s sleep and your partner will notice that you will stop snoring as soon as the machine is on and working. The benefits of CPAP can normally be noticed from the first day after use where you may feel more alert and refreshed. It is important to persist with CPAP therapy as any amount of time used each night will have positive benefits to your ongoing health and wellbeing.