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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleep Apnea and Your Health

Posted by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute on Jan 6, 2020 11:32:00 AM

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Sleep apnea is a common condition in the United States. It can occur when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea. If the brain does not send the signals needed to breathe, the condition may be called central sleep apnea.

Healthcare providers use sleep studies to diagnose sleep apnea. They record the number of episodes of slow or stopped breathing and the number of central sleep apnea events detected in an hour. They also determine whether oxygen levels in the blood are lower during these events.

Breathing devices such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machines and lifestyle changes are common sleep apnea treatments. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, glaucoma, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive and behavioral disorders.

Explore this Health Topic to learn more about sleep apnea and how to live with it.

Using and caring for your breathing device or mouthpiece

  • Be patient with your breathing device or CPAP machine. It may take time to adjust to breathing with the help of a CPAP machine.
  • Use your breathing device or CPAP machine for all sleep, including naps. To benefit fully from your treatment, you should wear your device whenever and wherever you sleep. If you are traveling, be sure to bring your breathing device with you. Call your doctor or sleep specialist right away if your device stops working correctly.
  • Talk to your doctor or supplier if you experience discomfort or have difficulty using your prescribed breathing device. Let the team or supplier know if you are having irritation from the mask, if your mask is not staying on or fitting well, if it leaks air, if you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep, if you wake with dry mouth, or if you have a stuffy or runny nose. Your doctor can explore options to improve the treatment, such as trying different masks or nasal pillows, adjusting the machine’s pressure timing and settings, or trying a different breathing device that has a humidifier chamber or provides bi-level or auto-adjusting pressure settings. Cleaning the mask and washing your face before putting your mask on can help make a better seal between the mask and your skin.
  • Properly care for your breathing device or CPAP machine. Know how to set up and properly clean all parts of your machine. Be sure to refill prescriptions on time for all of the device’s replaceable parts, including the tubes, masks, and air filters.
  • Properly care for your mouthpiece. If you were prescribed a mouthpiece, ask your dentist how to properly care for it. If it does not fit right or your signs and symptoms do not improve, let your dentist know so that he or she can adjust the device. It is common to feel some discomfort after a device is adjusted until your mouth and facial muscles get used to the new fit.

Monitor your condition

  • If your doctor prescribed a breathing device, your doctor and possibly your insurance company will want to check the data card from the machine. The data card shows how often you use the breathing device and whether the device and its pressure settings are helping to reduce or eliminate apnea events while you sleep. Your doctor may also check to see whether you still experience excessive sleepiness during the day, how you feel about your quality of life, whether you are still snoring, or whether have experienced weight loss or changes in your lifestyle.
  • If you were prescribed a mouthpiece, you should follow up with your dental specialist after six months and then at least every year. This is to see whether the mouthpiece is working correctly, whether it needs adjustment, and whether a replacement device is needed.

Repeat sleep studies

Learn the warning signs of some CPAP side effects

Learn about other precautions to help you stay safe

  • Before surgery. If you are having any type of surgery that requires medicine to put you to sleep or for pain management, let your surgeon and doctors know that you have sleep apnea. They might have to take extra steps to make sure that your upper airway stays open during the surgery and when selecting your pain medicines.
  • Driving precautions. Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea can decrease learning capabilities, slow down decision making, and decrease attention span, which can result in drowsy driving.

Get educated about your CPAP equipment 


Because we specialize in sleep related DME, Alaska Sleep Clinic provides the best education available for your sleep apnea and its treatment. As professionals in the field of sleep medicine we are able to ensure that you are familiar with any form of treatment your physician determines is best.

We carry an extensive inventory of machines, masks, and other sleep related products to meet every patient’s unique needs and lifestyle.

We continually strive to ensure that your CPAP experience is positive and you receive the sleep you need. We desire to help you improve your sleep… and therefore improve your life!

We hope you will consider choosing Alaska Sleep Clinic as your DME provider. Contact Alaska Sleep Clinic @ 907-770-9104 today.

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Topics: sleep apnea, sleep hygiene, sleep apnea dangers, drowsy driving

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