Sleep Apnea Living With
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you will need to schedule regular check-ups to make sure that your treatment is working and whether you have any complications. You may need to repeat your sleep study to monitor your symptoms while using your treatment, especially if you gain or lose a lot of weight. You may also need treatment for other health conditions that caused your sleep apnea or can make it worse.
How sleep apnea affects your health
Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea prevents you from getting enough rest, which can cause problems concentrating, remembering things, making decisions, or controlling your behavior, as well as dementia in older adults. In children, sleep apnea can lead to problems with learning and memory, known as learning disabilities. The daytime sleepiness and fatigue that results from sleep apnea can also impact your child’s behavior and their desire to be physically active.
Sleep apnea affects many parts of your body. It can cause low oxygen levels in your body during sleep and can prevent you from getting enough good quality sleep. Also, it takes a lot of effort for you to restart breathing many times during sleep, and this can damage your organs and blood vessels. These factors may raise your risk of the following conditions:
- Cancers, such as pancreatic, renal, and skin cancers
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eye problems, such a glaucoma, dry eye, or an eye condition called keratoconus
- Heart and blood vessel diseases, such as atrial fibrillation, atherosclerosis, difficult-to-control high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and stroke
- Metabolic syndrome
- Pregnancy complications
- Type 2 diabetes
Using and caring for your breathing device
It is important that you properly use and care for your breathing device.
- Be patient as you learn to use your breathing device. It may take time to adjust to breathing with the help of a CPAP machine.
- Use your breathing device for all sleep, including naps. If you are traveling, be sure to bring your breathing device with you.
- Talk to your healthcare provider if the mask of your breathing device is not comfortable, if your mask is not staying on or fitting well, or if it leaks air. Also, tell your provider if you are having difficulty falling or staying asleep, if you wake up with dry mouth, or if you have a stuffy or runny nose. Your provider may ask you to try different masks or nasal pillows, or to adjust the machine’s pressure timing and settings.
- Clean your mask and wash your face before you put on your mask. This can help make a better seal between the mask and your skin. You may need to try a different breathing device that has a humidifier chamber or provides bi-level or auto-adjusting pressure settings.
- Know how to set up and properly clean all parts of your machine. Be sure to refill prescriptions on time for all of the device’s parts that need to be replaced regularly, including the tubes, masks, and air filters.
Your healthcare provider, and possibly your insurance provider, may ask to check the data card from your breathing device. This card shows how often you use your device and whether the device is working properly.
Using and caring for your oral device
If you are using an oral device, you may need to see your dentist after 6 months and then every year. Your dentist will check whether your device is working correctly and whether it needs to be adjusted or replaced.
Ask your dentist how to properly care for your oral device. If it does not fit right or your symptoms do not improve, let your dentist know. It is common to feel some discomfort after a device is adjusted until your mouth and facial muscles get used to the new fit.
Information to help you stay safe
Sleep apnea can raise your risks of complications if you are having surgery and it can affect how well you drive.
- If you need medicine to make you sleep during surgery or pain medicine after surgery, tell your healthcare provider that you have sleep apnea. Your provider may have to take extra steps to make sure that your airway stays open during the surgery and that your pain medicine doesn’t make it harder for your airway to stay open.
- Untreated sleep apnea can make you sleepy during the day and can make it difficult for you to pay attention and make decisions while you drive. This can cause road accidents. Pay attention to your symptoms and do not drive if you feel very tired or sleepy.