Sleep apnea equipment may become a necessity if you are diagnosed with the condition. While the idea of sleeping with a mask and tubes connecting you to a machine may seem daunting, most patients eventually adapt and actually appreciate the improvement they see with this treatment. And their partners are equally appreciative, as it can help both to get a better night's sleep.
In most cases of sleep apnea, a condition where an obstruction causes the airway to close up during sleep, the main form of treatment is the use of positive airway pressure (PAP) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP, see also VPAP, APAP). A CPAP machine helps to control pressure in the airway passage so that it remains open, thus preventing apneas from occurring. The machine can be set according to an individual patient's needs, as sleep apnea can vary from patient to patient.
Since CPAP machines are medical devices, you'll need a doctor's prescription in order to acquire one. There are several manufacturers that make sleep apnea equipment and you'll want to check out all of the available options to find the machine that works best for you. Different machines can have different features, including the ability to adjust to different altitudes or to foreign currents, humidifier attachments and the ability to adjust pressure as needed.
Another available feature is the ability to record how often you use the machine and how many apneas you experience each night. This information can then be transmitted to your doctor, who can make adjustments to your treatment based on the data. Unfortunately, there may be restrictions on what equipment you can get based on your health insurance, as not all plans cover the use of every type of machine.
By far the most important piece of sleep apnea equipment is the mask that fits over your face and connects to the tubing of the machine. Masks are sold separately from the machine and finding the right one is an extremely personal choice. In order to decide on the proper mask, you'll need to take into consideration your particular type of apnea as well as your comfort. You'll want a mask that provides a proper seal but also one that allows you to sleep well through the night.
For the most part, masks are triangular in shape and fit over the nose, though larger masks that fit over the mouth as well can be used by mouth breathers. If you wear glasses or are prone to feeling claustrophobic, you might want to opt for a connection that fits inside the nostrils, similar to a standard nasal cannula.
You need to have a mask that fits properly to avoid leaks, which can affect the air pressure being exerted by the machine, thus negating its effectiveness. The mask is attached to the head by straps and you don't want the straps to be either too lose or too tight. Loose straps can cause leaks and tight ones may make the mask extremely uncomfortable to wear. You'll want to try on various styles of mask to determine which feels the best for you.
Choosing the right sleep apnea equipment can make all the difference to your treatment. This is not a decision that should be made lightly. Consider all of your options and check to see what restrictions your health insurance may have and then you can find the machine and mask that will help you get the rest you need.