Frequently Asked Questions
Find the answers to some frequently asked questions.
The signs and symptoms of obstructive (OSA) and central sleep apneas (CSA) overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
– Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would usually be reported by another person
– Gasping for air during sleep
– Awakening with a dry mouth
– Morning headache
– Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
– Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
Apnea machines are used to control the air pressure in the airways of a patient, thereby keeping airways open to ensure uninterrupted sleep.
Apnea machines can be broadly categorized into three types: CPAP, APAP, BiPAP machines. Each type controls airflow in a different way.
A CPAP machine continuously blows air at a set constant air pressure while a patient is sleeping.
Upper airway obstruction associated with sleep apnoea occurs because soft tissue such as the soft palate lowers and narrows the airway. The obstruction results in resistance to airflow. Airflow to the lungs is reduced. Inhalation becomes more difficult and stops at intervals. The body has to work harder for air to reach the lungs. Your brain tries to compensate to waken you or keeps you semi-awake so that you lack deep sleep. You experience sleep apnoea resulting in:
- Oxygen deprivation;
- Lack of deep sleep;
- Strain on organs;
- Morning headache;
- Daytime sleepiness;
- Tendency to depression.
The medical term for low blood oxygen level is “hypoxemia”. The percentage oxygen in the blood can by determined very accurately by a blood sample analysis. It can also be measured at home with a hypoxia meter (SpO2 meter) which is attached to the finger.
These meters give only momentaneous readings. By taking a deep breath the reading will increase and by sustaining from breathing the reading will decrease.
To determine whether a person’s blood oxygen level lowers during sleep, an oxygen meter which records the readings is needed. This is what the RESmart GII SpO2-meter, which interfaces with the GII CPAP, does. The change in oxygen levels throughout the night can be determined. The average oxygen level maintained during sleep is also shown on the CPAP report.
Relative expensive watch like SpO2 -meters are also available for sportsmen who want to measure their oxygen levels during exercising.
A reading of 95% is considered normal. A reading below 90% is too low. The person develops symptoms of shortness of breath and confusion. As the oxygen level falls to the low 80’s, organ damage can result and be life threatening.
A CPAP machine, i.e. a positive airway pressure machine can help. The system blows positive pressurised air into the airway and opens the airway for improved air and oxygen intake. The machine should be used all night every night.
The mask used with a CPAP has a port where oxygen from a cylinder or a oxygen machine can be provided. Oxygen enriched air can thus be inhaled. During a breathing emergency enough oxygen can still be inhaled.
An oxygen machine can be used on its own to provide air enriched it oxygen. The machine removes nitrogen from in taken air and releases air with oxygen concentrated to more than 90%. The oxygen is canalised with tubing and inhaled via holes or short tubes placed on the upper lip.