Getting Treatment for Sleep Apnea
By Charles Hopkins
Published 11/27/2007 | Health
If you think you may have sleep apnea, or your spouse tells you that
you periodically stop breathing at night, the best thing you can do for
yourself is to find a doctor in your area that specializes in sleep
Many people with sleep disorders talk to their family doctor about
the problem and are referred to sleep studies at local hospitals or
sleep disorder centers. These sleep centers then refer patients to a
sleep disorder doctor from a referral rotation list. The doctor
assigned from such a list may or may not be experienced in the
treatment of sleep apnea.
These referrals are sometimes made to doctors who use lucrative
sleep disorder billings as a temporary activity while they are building
a practice in another specialty. Some of these doctors are not familiar
with the variety of machines and masks that are available. They rely
upon the medical equipment providers and sometimes create additional
income for their practice with medical supply referrals.
Medicare and most insurance companies allow their insured to select
the medical supply provider and almost all such reputable companies
accept these insurances. Choose the most reputable medical supply
company in your area, as they will be your supply line to the
replacement parts for your sleep apnea machine.
To obtain treatment for sleep apnea you should first consult a
doctor in your area who specializes in sleep disorders. The doctor will
send you to a sleep study center where you will spend the night. During
that first study the technician will determine if you do in fact have
sleep apnea. If the first sleep study indicates that you do have sleep
apnea you will do a second sleep study during which time you will be
put on a sleep apnea machine.
There are basically two types of machines, the CPAP and the BIPAP
machine. Most patients will qualify for the CPAP machine. People who
have a problem with negative airflow during exhale generally need the
During the second study the level of the machines air volume will
be varied to determine the amount of air pressure you need and the
amount of air you can tolerate on exhale. If you need more air pressure
to solve your sleep apnea than you can comfortably exhale, the BIPAP
machine will be the recommended device. If you can exhale against the
needed pressure, the CPAP will be the recommendation. Most people will
only need the CPAP machine.
There are many different types and sizes of masks and nose pillow
devices available for the patient to choose from and during the second
sleep study the technician will help the patient choose the best one
for them. Most insurance companies supply a new mask or nose pillow
device every three to six months so you can try a different mask if you
are unhappy with the one you choose.
Setting the machine is done by prescription from your doctor, which
is one of the reasons you need a doctor who is thoroughly familiar with
the variety of machines and masks available. The wrong setting can
actually make your sleep apnea worse. Either too low or two high an air
flow setting will cause you to not be able to use the machine
Many people believe that sleep apnea is dangerous because it causes
the patient to stop breathing. Without the machine many patients wake
up choking. The real danger however is not as much the choking as from
lack of oxygen in the blood. Lack of oxygen in the blood can cause a
sleep apnea patient to NOT wake up choking. In fact lack of oxygen can
put the brain in a coma and make the patient not wake up at all.
Your first week on your sleep apnea machine will be amazing to you.
Your energy level will be much greater and you will no longer need that
mid afternoon catnap. If you choose the right doctor and he or she sets
you up with the right equipment it could literally recharge your life.