These are some of our most frequently asked questions. To submit your own, click here.
What exactly is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder that can be serious. In sleep apnea, your breathing stops or gets very shallow. Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more. These pauses can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour.
Is there any way to test for the condition beside an overnight sleep study?
Although a careful history and physical examination by your physician can increase suspicion for sleep apnea, an overnight sleep test is required for definite diagnosis. Sometimes that sleep test can be performed in the home but most often it is done in the sleep laboratory.
What is a PAP machine?
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is positive airway pressure therapy, PAP. A PAP machine is usually about the size of a shoebox but can be smaller. A flexible tube connects the machine with a mask or other interface device that is worn over the nose and/or mouth. PAP works by pushing air through the airway passage at a pressure high enough to prevent apneas and can be prescribed for both obstructive and central sleep apnea. The pressure is set according to the patient’s sleep apnea. (Source: American Sleep Apnea Association)
What maintenance is required for a PAP machine?
The only care required for machines is to clean or change the filters at the air intake of the machine to keep the internal parts from accumulating dust.
There are other suggested actions to care for your machine:
- Keep the area around your machine clean. Remove any dust from around your machine to improve the air quality delivered to your machine.
- Keep the air intake of the machine unblocked. Curtains, bedding, and papers can easily block the air intake of your machine, reducing the airflow to your machine.
- If you have a humidifier, it is suggested that you do not pick up the machine with the humidifier attached. With most machines, it is easy to spill water from the humidifier into the machine and cause damage. To avoid this, it is suggested to remove the machine from the humidifier instead of transporting them together.
- If you have a humidifier, it is also suggested that you empty the water from the chamber every morning. Accidents happen. If a family pet, or family member moves the machine and humidifier, when there is water in the chamber, it is more likely an accident could happen where water is spilled into your machine.
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Does the fit testing and accuracy of the CPAP machines require an overnight stay?
Generally, nasal CPAP testing is best done in the sleep laboratory. The recent development of new “auto-titrating” CPAP machines has allowed some patients to have their CPAP prescription made based on a home study. You should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of home studies with your physician.
Have there been any advances in sleep masks?
Mask technology has changes substantially in recent years but this remains a difficult problem for many patients using nasal CPAP. To help patients get the best prescription, we have started a Mask Fitting Clinic at BIDN. If you wish to be seen in the Clinic your physician should refer you through the Sleep Laboratory.
What health insurance do you accept?
The following is a list of plans that the Sleep Center has contracts with. Patients are responsible for assuring that our services are covered under their insurance:
- ANTHEM BLUE CROSS/ BLUE SHIELD
- TRICARE (PRIME OR STANDARD)
- UNITED HEALTHCARE