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For People Living With Sleep Apnea And Cpap Therapy

For the many people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, using a cpap unit is a necessity.  However, a very real factor in obtaining one is the price of the unit itself.

If you are one of the lucky ones who has health insurance, the final cost is ultimately decided on your actual insurance plan and not the price set by your DME provider.  Many people often criticize DME providers because they think they are being ripped off after they see the invoice.  Keep in mind that the amount an insurance company pays is up to the insurance company, not your DME provider.   This is where it is very important to be familiar with your insurance plan and know you coverage whether it be hospital coverage, prescription drug coverage, durable medical equipment…etc. The only real choice the DME company has is which model of sleep apnea machine they provide you with.

One of the more frequent coverage plans is the 80/20 plan.  In this plan, your insurance covers 80% of the cost and you pay the remaining balance.  It really is difficult to give an exact number on cost as each insurance has a different contracted price.  It is safe to assume that under an 80/20 plan most co-pays will cost between the $50- $100 range.

Another factor that has an impact of cost is whether your insurance will rent the machine or purchase the unit.  Believe it or not, many insurance companies will not purchase the cpap unit outright until months later.  The obvious downside to this is that the individual will also pay a monthly copay aside from what the insurance company is paying.  There are benefits to both plans, but the point I’m trying to make is that you should know exactly what your insurance covers and how much you will have to pay out of your own pocket.

For those who are unfortunate not to have health insurance coverage, they are responsible for the full purchase of their sleep apnea machine.   The good news is that the prices vary greatly from manufacture and functions.  The most basic cpaps usually run around $200 and the more “top of the line” unit will run as high as $1200.  Both units do the exact the same thing; which is blow air.  However, the more expensive units have built in comfort features and the ability to store usage data.

Whether you have insurance or are paying out of pocket for your unit, make sure to know all your options.  Looking up prices online is a great way to get an idea of cost.  Also, your durable medical equipment provider can help with answering your questions, and can assist you in choosing the best sleep apnea machine for you.

Your sleep apnea machine is vital to you receiving a quality night’s sleep.  It becomes a necessity that many can not do without for even one night.  Just like anything that is used consistently, it will undergo normal wear and tear from nightly use and will eventually need to be replaced.  However, there are some steps you can take to keep it running in optimal condition.

Place Your Unit On A Nightstand

It is important to place your sleep apnea machine near your bed on a nightstand or an appropriate table.  This is important because the hose which attaches to your cpap unit is usually about 6 feet long.  Although this is plenty for most people,  if the unit is placed on a night stand that is to far or to low, the usable length of the hose is decreased.  This increases the chance of pulling the unit off the nightstand and having it crash onto the floor.  Also, keeping it of the ground allows it to receive proper ventilation.

Wipe Your Unit Down Frequently

By wiping down your sleep apnea machine frequently you keep dust from accumulating on the unit, which can be sucked in through the air inlet or any other openings it may have. It is always a good idea to disconnect the power cord from the wall to avoid electrical shock.

Clean And/Or Replace The Filters

This step is very important.  Most cpaps have at least one air inlet filter usually located on the back of the  machine.  Some filters are washable, whereas, others require replacing after they become dirty.  Whichever your cpap machine uses, it is important to inspect the filter once every two weeks and wash it or replace it for a clean one.

Dirty filters may cause the unit to operate at higher temperatures, which may damage the machine.  If you notice the air coming from the unit is too warm, chances are good you have a clogged filter.  WARNING: Never insert a wet filter into your machine.

Disconnect and Clean the Hose Daily

Many people forget about cleaning the hose on their machine.  If anything, the hose should be disconnected everyday and allowed to drain to get rid of any excess water or condensation that may have accumulated throughout the night.  This is important because if water is allowed to build up in the unit, it can drain back to the machine where in may not fully empty into the water chamber causing damage to the unit.

Have Your Unit Inspected By Your Medical Equipment Provider

If your unit is under rental or a maintenance agreement from your DME (durable medical equipment) provider, they will be happy to inspect your unit to make sure the pressure is calibrated correctly.  Many units have a fine pressure adjustment which allows the technician to fine tune the air pressure in the event that the blower is slightly off.

Major Service Not Required

Cpap machines do not require routine servicing.  If you feel that your machine is not working as it should, contact your medical equipment provider for more assistance.

Because a sleep apnea machine plays an important role in the lives of millions of people suffering with obstructive sleep apnea, it is always a good idea to take these simple steps in order to maximize the life of your unit.

Many patients are confused on how using a cpap unit will help them sleep better.   However, the concept behind the therapy is actually very simple.

People who have obstructive sleep apnea have very poor quality of sleep.  The reason for this is due to their airway becoming obstructed during sleep and there is no passage of air into or out of the lungs.  This is when a person is said to stop breathing.  It is not difficult to see that if this pattern continues throughout the night, the individual will not rest very well at all.  This cessation of breathing throughout the night keeps the body from going into REM sleep, which is the stage of sleep where the body restores and repairs itself.  By staying out of REM sleep, the body will not be very well rested, and the individual will be very sleepy/tired the next day and will progressively get worse over time.

So how does the sleep apnea machine alleviate this?

Simply put, the machine is merely an air blower that has the capability to blow a precise amount of pressure.  No more no less.  The amount of air it puts out is calculated when the person has their sleep study.   The home cpap machine is then set to that optimal pressure.  The air that comes out the unit simply splints the airway open and keeps it  from becoming obstructed.   In doing that, it allows the person to stay asleep and lets the body enter REM stage where the body will begin to rest and repair itself.  When the person wakes up, they will feel more rested and have more energy throughout the day.  That’s it! There really isn’t much more to understand how the sleep apnea machine helps you to achieve a better night’s rest.  It really is simple stuff.

Many first time users are under the misconception that the unit will provide them with supplemental oxygen.  I cannot stress this enough; it does not!  Like it was stated earlier, the sleep apnea machine simply puts out air that will maintain a patent airway.  Although it should be acknowledged that there are people who require use of supplemental oxygen in conjunction with their cpap machine, that’s a more in depth discussion for a different post.

Hopefully, this will shed a little more light for those who were still confused on how their sleep apnea machine helps them sleep better.  It is a simple concept with amazing results for those who suffer from OSA.  If you are still unclear about using a cpap unit, please consult your physician.

Sleep Apnea is when your breathing becomes either shallow or pauses while you are asleep.  The pauses can occur over five times an hour and can happen three or more times a week.  This can be caused by your brain not telling the muscles that make you breath it is time to do so, but the more common cause of it is obstructive (when your airway is blocked or collapsed) sleep apnea.

If left untreated, it can cause your risk of heart attack, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and obesity to increase.  Your doctor may try treating you by suggesting lifestyle changes, surgeries, mouthpieces, or breathing devices, such as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.  CPAP therapy, which is the most common form of treatment for adults who have moderate to severe cases, works by blowing a continuous flow of air pressure, which helps to keep the airway walls from narrowing or becoming blocked.

One of the main complaints of the sleep apnea machine is that the mask covers both the nose and mouth, which seems overwhelming and can make the patient feel claustrophobic.  Some of the other side effects are a stuffy or dry nose, which can be helped with a nose spray or attaching a heated humidifier to the machine, the mask can cause skin irritations or allergies, changing masks may help this.  A dry mouth may be from breathing with your mouth open, in which case a chin strap to hold it shut may help, if not, try the heated humidifier attachment.  Runny nose or congestion, sinusitis, sneezing or nosebleeds may be alleviated with a saline solution, a mask refit, or the heated humidifier, while the stomach bloating probably needs the setting to be adjusted.

In the event your doctor prescribes surgery, it will be for the purpose of widening the breathing passageway.  This is done either by getting rid of the excess tissue or stiffening it.  They get rid of the excess tissue by shrinking it, or removing it from the mouth and throat, while the tissue can be stiffened by inserting a piece of plastic in it.  They will also reset the jaw.

Since there are no blood tests to diagnose sleep apnea, many people have it without realizing it.  Not getting a good sleep is an indication you may have it.  Having your spouse listen to you carefully at night can be a big help to your doctor.  It is a serious disease for which there is help, so please see your doctor if you suspect you have it.

I decided to make a quick post about the treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea.  I know a lot of people who suffer from sleep apnea, and have seen some of their struggles and  successes with the appropriate therapy.  I am talking of course about the almighty sleep apnea machine.  I will try to keep this post simple but hopefully informative.

In order for someone to qualify for a sleep apnea machine (or “cpap” machine as it is more commonly known), the individual must have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. The person must first be referred by their physician to  have a sleep study done at an accredited sleep lab or hospital.  After the diagnosis of  obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been made, the individual will once again be referred by their physician to a durable medical equipment company (DME) which will supply them and instruct them with the proper sleep apnea machine as ordered by their doctor.

The purpose of the sleep apnea machine is to help the individual stay asleep throughout the night, allowing the body to get the much needed rest it  has been severely lacking.  More about that in another post.  However, not all is well in the beginning as many people find it extremely difficult  to use a sleep apnea machine (cpap machine).

Although it varies person to person, there is a period of time, (sometimes lengthy)  in which the individual will need to become accustomed to using the unit.  It can be safely assumed that most people will generally require about a 1 month period in which they will need in order to become used to the therapy.  Others require a little more time, and some a little less. The important thing to keep in mind is the the sleep apnea machine must be used consistently on a nightly basis if they hope of achieving any success with the therapy.  Once this is accomplished, they will be happy they stuck with it as they will see the result of getting a good night’s sleep.

One of the key factors with therapy compliance is being fitted with the correct cpap mask.  Most of the time this is done at the sleep lab where one is fitted with the appropriate nasal interface to be used that night.  Later, when the person receives the sleep apnea machine from their DME provider, they will many times carry the nasal interface that was used during the sleep study.

After time , the person who has stuck with the therapy will ultimately sleep and feel much better than before.  It truly is amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for a body.  For people who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have yet to use a sleep apnea machine, all I can say is at least give it a try, you’ll be happy you did.

Hopefully this article was informative to all of you.  In the near future,  I will be posting a lot more in depth posts to help those of you with OSA or suspected OSA in hopes of achieving success with therapy.