Senior Health

9/27/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

If you’re among the millions of individuals who have trouble sleeping, a CPAP machine may be the right solution to help you get your Z’s. We explore the symptoms of needing one, and help you answer the question yourself: when should you get a CPAP machine?

Millions of Americans snore, gasp, stop breathing, choke, and have difficulty staying asleep every night. They wake up the next morning with a dry mouth and a headache, often feeling as if they hadn’t slept at all. Most of these people suffer from sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder that constantly interrupts their breathing.

There are two primary types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: The more common of the two types of apnea, obstructive apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, causing an airway blockage.
  • Central sleep apnea: The airway is not blocked with central sleep apnea. Instead, the brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles that control breathing because of instability in the respiratory control center.

Who is at the most risk for sleep apnea?

  • Men are two to three times more likely than premenopausal women to have obstructive sleep apnea. After menopause, the frequency of sleep apnea increases.
  • Smokers
  • People who are overweight
  • Anyone over the age of 40
  • Diabetics
  • People with a large neck diameter (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Those with large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
  • Anyone with a family history of sleep apnea
  • Having a nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus issues

What is the most common therapy for sleep apnea?

Most people with obstructive sleep apnea benefit from positive airway pressure. A machine delivers air pressure through a piece that fits into or over your nose and mouth while you sleep. Called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, the machine supplies constant air pressure that is a bit greater than the surrounding air. But it’s enough to keep the upper airway passages open, preventing snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

When should you get a CPAP machine?

If you have certain sleep apnea symptoms, talk to your doctor. They will determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea and will likely recommend a CPAP machine. Those symptoms include:

  • You snore at night (ask your partner!)
  • You have difficulty breathing when lying flat
  • You stop breathing completely for a few seconds during otherwise normal sleep
  • You feel tired and lethargic during the day
  • You have headaches in the morning, along with a frequent dry mouth and sore throats
  • You have inexplicably gained weight
  • You have insomnia, causing depression and irritability

Any of these symptoms could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Because this is a serious condition, you should consult a doctor immediately after noticing the symptoms. Ignoring them can lead to complications.

What are some of the complications associated with sleep apnea?

  • Cardiovascular issues: The abrupt drops in blood oxygen levels during sleep apnea can increase blood pressure and damage the cardiovascular system. Obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). Multiple episodes of arrhythmias could result in sudden death.
  • Eye problems: Researchers have discovered a connection between obstructive sleep apnea and specific eye conditions, such as glaucoma.
  • Complications with medications and surgery: Sleep apnea can create an issue with some drugs, such as sedatives and general anesthesia. These medications relax the upper airway and worsen breathing problems.
  • Sleep-deprived partners: The loud snoring that accompanies sleep apnea can keep anyone near you from getting the proper amount of sleep. Sleep apnea can upset an otherwise solid relationship and causes many partners to sleep in another room.
  • Daytime fatigue and sleepiness: When people with sleep apnea don’t get the restorative sleep they need, they tend to have severe daytime drowsiness and fatigue. Many have trouble concentrating and end up dozing off at work or, worse yet, while driving. This lack of sleep puts them at a higher risk of work-related and traffic accidents.

Also, keep in mind that young people with obstructive sleep apnea often do poorly in school, and many of them end up with attention or behavior problems.

Better sleep could be right around the corner!

If you’re wondering about when should you get a CPAP machine, consult a professional to determine if this device could be the answer to a better night’s sleep. Your physical – and mental – health will benefit!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff