What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious health problem characterized by frequent pauses in your breathing during sleep. These pauses can last in excess of 30 seconds and can occur hundreds of times a night. If left untreated, OSA can lead to serious and long term health consequences
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
The goal of treatment is to relieve apnea, improve quality of sleep, and maintain blood oxygen levels within acceptable levels. Successful treatment regimes may include:
- Weight loss
- Establish regular sleeping patterns
- Smoking cessation
- Reduce intake of stimulants including caffeine
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy
- Dental devices
In some mild cases of OSA, simply changing your lifestyle may be an effective treatment. Weight loss and stopping the use of alcohol, muscle relaxants, sleeping pills and cigarettes will all contribute to the improvement of OSA symptoms. You should always consult your physician prior to changes in your use of medications.
Your individualized treatment plan will be developed in consultation with your physician. The Health Care Professionals at Ontario Home Oxygen and Health are available to assist and guide you through the treatment process.
Click on the link below for treatment information provided by the Canadian Lung Association
NASAL CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
CPAP is the most common and most effective treatment for OSA. While a person with OSA sleeps, the tissues in the back of the throat collapse and block the flow of air. CPAP therapy introduces controlled pressure (usually through the nasal passages) to hold the soft tissue of the uvula, soft palate, and soft pharyngeal tissue of the upper airway in position, in order to keep the airway open.
A CPAP unit is essentially a microprocessor-controlled blower that delivers pressurized air through a mask that is placed over the nose. When used properly as prescribed by your sleep physician, CPAP will stabilize oxygen levels, breathing patterns and blood pressure.
The amount of pressure required to treat your OSA is generally determined by a titration study in the sleep lab.
CPAP users often report immediate benefits from the therapy. Generally, the more severe the symptoms associated with your OSA, the more dramatic the improvement. Immediate benefits may include cessation of snoring and thrashing around in bed resulting in improved sleep for you and your bedmate.
Continued CPAP use usually results in improved quality of life, including increased energy levels, improved mood, and renewed interest in work and hobbies. Long-term therapy has also been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure.
Probably the most important variable in the application of nasal CPAP therapy is the mask or nasal interface through which the CPAP therapy contacts the client's airway. Considerations for a proper fit include:
- Ability to effect a proper seal with little pressure
- Cost (in some cases)
- Materials (sensitivities)
- Anatomical structure of the face
The high airflow through the nasal passages has a drying effect on the nasal and pharyngeal mucosa. Generally a humidifier is added to increase the humidity level of the air delivered by the CPAP unit.
Humidifiers are available for use with most CPAP units, and are designed to fit the unit and prevent an overly cumbersome package.
Humidifiers can be cold, passover or heated
Complications of Nasal CPAP Therapy
Like all medical interventions, there are complications associated with CPAP therapy. With proper consultation, these side effects can be minimized.
Sneezing and rhinorrhea
-mild but common complications
Dry mucous membranes
-caused by continuous airflow
Dermal irritation from mask
-commonly reduced by changing
-most common problem
Ontario Home Oxygen and Health's CPAP Program
- Trial periods allow you to experience the benefits of CPAP therapy
- Flexible set-up times to accommodate your schedule
- Highly trained Registered Respiratory Therapists
- A large selection of CPAP products from reputable Manufacturers
Funding is available to residents of Ontario through the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) for clients who meet the following criteria:
- Completion of polysomnographic study (sleep study) in a registered sleep lab - diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- Prescription by a registered sleep physician
- A valid Ontario Health Card
The ADP program provides partial funding of CPAP systems. There is no ongoing funding for future supplies through the Assistive Devices Program.
Clients are eligible for replacement CPAP units in 5 years if their unit ceases to function. This requires the completion of a new ADP application, and sleep lab physician signature.