Living with Sleep Apnea ASAP
Living with Sleep Apnea
What is not being said about Adherence (also referred to as compliance)?
By Patients Kathy Page and Sherry Hanes
You have received a diagnosis of sleep apnea.
You haven’t felt well and have been tired for some time; now you have an answer as to why. You also have or will be given a remedy.
You may imagine that the future is going to be a life sentence of wearing an apparatus attached to your face while you sleep.
You may be feeling very vulnerable.
You may have a fear about being judged or what your bedpartner will think.
You may even be hesitant to comply with the recommended treatment and pretend that you never heard the diagnosis.
You may even think that it may be easier to just keep dragging yourself through life.
Empower Yourself to Utilize the Life Tools to Achieve Adherence
Anyone can have sleep apnea, regardless of age, sex or body type. However, having any of the following factors may put you at increased risk:
Work to change your perspective and your mindset.
Imagine or remember what it feels like to wake up full of energy and vigor with a clear mind.
Being overweight is one of the strongest risk factors for sleep apnea. Your risk of sleep apnea increases with the amount of excess body weight and can decrease by losing weight. Sleep apnea may also cause weight gain.
Be patient with yourself through the process.
Men with a neck circumference of 17 inches or more and women with a neck circumference of 16 inches or more are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
Be willing to stay with the program regardless of how much you want to pretend you don't have sleep apnea.
Understand that this is a journey and not a marathon.
Drinking alcohol before sleep can cause the upper airways to relax and collapse during sleep, leading to apneas.
Do your homework by educating yourself on the consequences of underlying untreated sleep apnea.
Track how you are feeling daily by creating a log or system.
Sleep apnea increases during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester or with extra weight gain.
Seek out all the treatment options.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Compliance (can also be referred to as "Adherence")
This is a level of use of therapy that is considered necessary to achieve benefit. Your insurance company will require that you show this minimal level of use to justify covering the costs of therapy. Bear in mind that the level of therapy usage required for one patient to feel better will differ from others, even though insurance companies usually use a single threshold.
Both insurance carriers and sleep specialists can review CPAP usage by way of built-in monitoring technology in order to see if you are using therapy as needed. This is the same technology that allows your sleep specialist to see other important information about your therapy, such as whether there is ongoing sleep apnea and how well your mask is fitting.
There is either a data card inside the machine that measures usage, which can be uploaded at the sleep clinic for review, or a wireless service that streams the same data live, and made directly accessible to your doctors.
In some instances, if a patient is not achieving their usage target, the insurer may refuse to reimburse that patient for the machine or supplies and may even ask for the machine to be returned. This is often referred to as a "use it or lose it" mentality among insurance payers. This kind of system exists because CPAP is a device rather than a medication. For example, if a patient is prescribed a medication for high blood pressure but they don’t take it as prescribed, the doctor simply won’t issue a refill and there is no need for the ‘use it or lose it’ approach.
Most people don’t like to be told what they have to do and some will resist that kind of demand. A positive mindset is encouraged, remembering that the more you use PAP, the larger are the possible benefits.
This is so much easier when you partner with your doctor & team to work through all the challenges to the recommended treatment while learning all you can about sleep apnea. You will gain the reward when you are feeling rested and have more energy. How we are feeling in the moment tends to dictate what we are able to accomplish during the day, the energy we have, the clarity we have and how we interact with others. Ensuring good sleep can be your best work.
Daily Living with CPAP
Always, check the user manual to see manufacturer’s instructions regarding cleaning and maintenance of equipment. Make sure to unplug the CPAP from the power source before cleaning.
These are recommendations only. Always check manufacturer’s instructions. If equipment is covered by insurance, check with their policy on replacing equipment.
How do I get used to wearing a CPAP mask?
Wear just the mask before going to sleep at night, while using the computer, reading or watching television. You can do the same during the day while doing work around the house.
My CPAP Mask is Uncomfortable at Night
For milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend only lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or reducing alcohol consumption.