If you wake up tired and groggy despite getting plenty of rest, or experience unexplained ill health, sleep apnea may be to blame. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than a quarter of adult Canadians are at high risk for sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is breathing interruption during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent form, affecting 84% of sleep apnea sufferers. During sleep, the airway is partially or fully blocked and breathing is paused for a few seconds or even a few minutes. With your breathing paused, carbon dioxide begins to build up in the blood. The brain sends a signal to the body to breathe, but the blocked airway blocks the air. The brain temporarily signals you to wake up so you can breathe, then you fall back asleep. These micro interruptions happen multiple times per hour. Sleep apnea has two serious health consequences: it interrupts your sleep and deprives your body of oxygen.
Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, however the most common group are 40+ overweight men. Additional risk factors include a family history of sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, nasal obstruction, or large neck/tongue/tonsils.
How does Sleep Apnea Affect Sleep?
Constant “micro” interruptions in your sleep can lead to fatigue, irritability, muscle soreness, concentration problems, and memory loss. The most troubling issue with sleep apnea is that lack of quality sleep only compounds over time, and can seldom be completely improved with simple sleep solutions like a new mattress or better pillow. If this is your nightly experience, over a period of months or years your overall health and wellbeing will suffer greatly.
How does Sleep Apnea Affect Overall Health?
Sleep apnea raises blood sugar levels and reduces blood oxygen levels. As a result, sleep apnea sufferers are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, or having a heart attack or stroke.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Options in the GTA
The best treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy – continuous positive airflow pressure.
CPAP therapy is safe and effective for people suffering from sleep apnea, including children. A CPAP system is a combination of a CPAP machine and a CPAP mask that you wear at night while you sleep. The CPAP machine increases air pressure in your throat, ensuring your airway does not collapse when you inhale.
Not only is CPAP therapy, a non-surgical option, it is the most widely used and effective choice for moderate to severe sleep apnea – and it can help your partner get a better night’s sleep. Studies show that CPAP therapy lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart problems.
CPAP Systems are 75% funded through the Assistive Devices Program (ADP) for those that qualify. To start the process, discuss your concerns with your family doctor who will provide you a referral to a Respirologist. Respirologists are medical doctors who further specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of lung disease, such as asthma, emphysema, or pneumonia.
After an initial assessment, the Respirologist will schedule you for testing at a Sleep Lab for an over night sleep study where you will be monitored. Results are then sent back to your Respirologist who will provide you with a prescription for the CPAP System. As is the case with all medical devices, you then choose where you wish to fill the prescription, MEDability Healthcare Solutions for example. A Respiratory Technician will review all the options for both the CPAP System and various mask types. The Technician, over the course of approximately one hour, will assess various masks for comfort and fit as well as completing all the paperwork that is submitted to the Ministry of Health on your behalf. You complete the 25% cost only and take the equipment home with you on the spot. If you do have medical insurance coverage, your 25% cost will be reimbursed to you. Many health plans do supplement the cost of CPAP consumables including cleaning supplies, tubes and masks every six months.
Visit us in store in Markham or give us a call at 905-471-5224 Ext. 23 to learn more about how CPAP therapy can improve your health and quality of life if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.