You Were Just Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea - Now What?
Steps to Take After Just Being Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea
First things first, relax. It is estimated that over 20 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but being diagnosed with sleep apnea isn’t the end of the world. If you have recently been diagnosed, you have probably just gotten a prescription from a doctor for new sleep therapy equipment, but you may still have questions and challenges that will leave you asking, “Now what?,”and that’s OK. Below is a quick, basic rundown of what you should do if you have just been diagnosed with sleep apnea
Familiarize Yourself with Your Equipment
Before beginning any type of sleep therapy, it is important to understand what your equipment is and how it works. There are various types of sleep devices and knowing what device you have and how it works is one of the first steps to getting back to a full, restful night’s sleep. The types of devices available include:
- CPAP therapy devices - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices deliver a gentle, steady airflow throughout the night on a pressure setting prescribed by a doctor to keep your airway open while you sleep.
- Bi-level therapy devices - Bi-level therapy devices (BIPAP), as the name suggests, delivers two levels of pressure compared to a normal CPAP. One pressure is a lower pressure for when you breathe out while a higher level of pressure is used when you breathe in. Bi-level therapy devices are sometimes prescribed for patients who have trouble with one constant pressure from a CPAP device throughout the night.
- Auto-CPAP therapy devices - Auto-CPAP therapy devices have variable pressure settings that adjust automatically throughout the night based on the needs of the user.
Every device will come with a set of instructions that will best explain how to properly use your device and it is very important you take the time and read them thoroughly. The instructions and guides that come with your device will help you understand settings specific to your sleep device, such as proper cleaning and care or settings to help keep you comfortable while you sleep. Your sleep therapy device is considered medical equipment, not furniture, so best not skip to the instructions.
Using Your Equipment Properly and Comfortably
Up until this point, you have spent your nights sleeping without anything on your face and head to now, just diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a device that you have to wear nightly. Finding the right equipment, most importantly a mask that is fit properly and comfortable to wear, can help make the transition to wearing a sleep device a lot easier. Here are some tips and advice when picking a mask:
- Your mask should always be fitted while in a sleeping position with the prescribed pressure blowing through the tubing and mask.
- A nasal mask just covering your nose is the most common and usually all you need, but if you breathe through your mouth while you sleep, a full mask that covers your nose and mouth would be a better option.
- Your mask should be the smallest size possible without pinching your nostrils in order to prevent leaks.
- Counterintuitively, having a very tight mask may actually cause air leaks by causing creases in your mask’s cushioning. Your mask should be snug and secure, but not to the point the cushioning is smashed against your face. Once you find the right fit, mark your straps with a permanent marker to make sure you have the same fit every night.
Caring For Your Equipment
Clean your equipment every night. Yes, it’s a chore, and can feel like a hassle, but it is incredibly important to clean your equipment on a nightly basis and really simple to do. Using warm, soapy water, all you have to do is rinse your mask and tubing. Rinse with clean water and let it air dry.
For your humidifier, empty and replace the water in the chamber with distilled water to avoid mineral build-up caused by tap water. To clean the humidifier, use white vinegar to clean any deposits and to prevent mold growth, rinse thoroughly and let air dry. Make sure to never use alcohol or your dishwasher when cleaning your equipment. If you want to have a device that cleans your equipment for you, a SoClean eliminates the need to take apart your device everyday and no water is needed..
Making sure you have a clean device and equipment every night so you aren’t breathing in harmful pollutants like dust and pollen, or worse, bacterias and mold, is a step you need to take seriously. Luckily, you read your device’s instruction guide which provided you with a checklist of items you need to clean daily, weekly, or monthly along with the detailed steps on how to do it properly.
Check In and Ask for Help
After just being diagnosed with sleep apnea, you will likely have questions, and the professional sleep experts at Valley Sleep Therapy are here to provide you with answers. We want you to be able to get the best night’s sleep possible, so whether you have questions about your device, or are shopping for a proper fitting mask or cleaning supplies, contact us today by calling 480-361-0124, visiting us online, or by emailing one of our sleep experts.