What is the first step?
A visit to your local GP
Usually a patient initially visits their local GP complaining of one or more of the following sleep related problems;
- constant yawning
- morning headaches
- falling asleep when watching TV
- waking up gasping for breath during the night
The GP will consider the symptoms and patient's background and if warranted, refer the patient to a Specialist Respiratory Physician for a more in-depth examination.
What will the Sleep Specialist do?
A sleep specialist will usually conduct an in-depth examination and may ask the patient to complete a brief daytime sleepiness questionnaire to determine the severity of the sleep related problems. This is known as the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) .
Patients are likely refer to be referred to a local sleep clinic to confirm or rule out the possibility that Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as the cause of the sleep related problems.
What is a Sleep Study?
A sleep study is an overnight test to measure the sleep performance of the patient. This can be done as an overnight stay at a sleep clinic, or can sometimes be done at home. Either way, a sleep technician will attach a series of electrodes to various parts of the body and a box records all the relevant data points. The results collated and are reported back to the Respiratory Specialist, who then arranges a follow up visit by the patient to discuss the findings.
What if I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
If the sleep study confirms that the patient has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the report will also indicate how severe it is, classifying it as Mild, Moderate or Severe. There could be surgical options available to the patient, but more often than not, a CPAP Machine will be needed to effectively treat the OSA. Usually the next step will be a second sleep study.
Why do I need a second Sleep Study?
Once OSA has been confirmed, the next step is to work out the appropriate treatment. This involves a second sleep study with all the same electrodes and sleep monitoring / recording equipment.
But this time, the patient is also connected to a CPAP Machine and CPAP Mask. The Sleep Technician will work with the patient during this second sleep study to determine the most suitable and comfortable mask. They will also vary the pressure of the CPAP machine up and down over a period of sleep to determine the minimum effective treatment pressure needed to keep the upper airway open. This process is called titration.
I'm getting sick of all these tests, what next?
Please be patient, you are almost ready to start your CPAP therapy journey, You will need to return to your Specialist to discuss the results of your second sleep study. If the CPAP treatment is effective, your doctor will prescribe a CPAP machine or an Auto CPAP (APAP) machine. The script will contain details of the treatment pressure your body needs to effectively treat your OSA. This pressure is recorded in cmH20. The script will also contain details of the type of Mask (Nasal Pillow, Nasal or Full Face Mask) that has been recommended and may also include the fact that a humidifier is recommended.
Examples: CPAP pressure of 10cmH20 or APAP pressure of 7~15cmH20 with Nasal Mask. Humidifier recommended.
You will need to try or buy a CPAP or Auto Machine and have it set up based on your doctor's prescription.
My script states a particular brand - Do I need to buy this one?
Your doctors may be more familiar or have a preference for a particular brand but like when you go to the pharmacy, they may ask if you are ok with a cheaper generic brand.
All CPAP and Auto Machines on the market will effectively treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
You are the patient/customer, and it is your choice of the device you purchase and use.
The choice will come down to a number of factors include price and support.
If you are considering purchasing from us, you may be interested to read our customer testimonials first.
You may also want to know why our prices are so low.
- Last updated 4th August 2013
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