Obstructive sleep apnea is much more than a sleep disorder. Left untreated, the condition, which causes your breathing to become interrupted while you sleep, can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, diabetes and depression, not to mention headaches, poor work performance and vehicle collisions caused by sleepy driving.
The gold standard treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. But how does it work and where can you get one? We answer the most frequently asked questions.
How does a CPAP machine work?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue of the throat collapses, briefly cutting off the airway and disrupting sleep. CPAP machines use gently pressurized air, delivered through a tube and mask, to force air into the throat to keep the airway open. A CPAP machine uses air from your bedroom and does not require an oxygen tank.
Do I need a prescription to get a CPAP machine?
Yes. If you have moderate to severe sleep apnea, your provider will give you a prescription for a CPAP machine. Sleep apnea is fairly simple to diagnose. You’ll need to complete a sleep study, which you may be able to do at home.
Most insurance plans cover the full cost of a CPAP machine, although some plans have a copay. Be sure to find out what your plan covers before selecting a unit. Certain models, including travel-size machines, may not be covered.
Find the right CPAP machine. The pros at Total Health Solutions can help you choose the machine and mask that work best for you.
Will I be able to sleep in that mask?
CPAP machines and masks are sold separately so you can choose the mask that’s most comfortable for you.
“When someone comes in for a CPAP machine, we’ll help fit them with a mask,” says Chris Boudreaux, respiratory supervisor at Ochsner Home Medical Equipment. “There are plenty of mask options to choose from. A lot of people like the ones that fit under the nose so they can watch TV or read a book in bed.”
And don’t worry about having to sleep in a single position all night. “Today’s masks allow you to toss and turn into whatever position makes you comfortable,” Boudreaux says. “Many also have quick releases, so you can disconnect to go to the bathroom without taking the mask off.”
Do I have to wear it every night?
Yes. CPAP machines are meant to be used every time you sleep, including when napping. Skipping even one night can cause sleep apnea symptoms to return.
Where can I get one?
CPAP machines are available at Total Health Solutions, 3211 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, LA 70002. Ask your doctor to send your prescription there and then call 504-834-8114 to schedule an appointment with a Total Health Solutions respiratory therapist to help you choose a machine and fit you for a mask.