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Do I have sleep apnea?

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BreathlessD +0 points · over 2 years ago Original Poster

Hi everybody, I am new to the forum. I am male, 49 yrs old, hypertension, overweight, snoring, often tired. My GP told me that I have sleep apnea and that I should check out some breathing masks. Any advice. Thanks in advance

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Bigmike52 +0 points · over 2 years ago

Hi Breathless and welcome to the forum. You will get great advise here from more qualified people than myself, but let me get the ball rolling. I am sure he/she suggested for you to take a sleep study before suggesting to look at a mask. Did he recommend for you to see a sleep doctor? The test, whether it's home or at a sleep center will determine if you have sleep apnea and what type of apnea. There is both obstructive sleep apnea (osa) and central sleep apnea. Both treated by different type machines. Your doctor will then suggest the type of apnea, machine and mask you will require. If your GP is not in a related field he really isn't that well versed on sleep therapy.

Apnea untreated can lead to major medical problems. I ignored it 25 years and ended up with heart attack, triple heart bypass, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation just to name a few. OSA is very serious. Please get a sleep study soon.

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Sierra +0 points · over 2 years ago Sleep Patron

You can do a self evaluation to determine if you are likely to have sleep apnea. See link below:

STOP-BANG Test

If the test indicates a high probability the next step is to get a sleep study done. This can be done in a lab or at home. The lab method is recommended if there are other complicating conditions such as heart and/or lung disease issues. If the test indicates apnea, ideally you will be given a Auto CPAP for a trial, and if successful then a prescription for one. It is not legal in the US and Canada to buy a new CPAP without a prescription from a doctor.

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BreathlessD +0 points · over 2 years ago Original Poster

Thanks, Bigmike52 & Sierra, very much appreciated information. I scored 4 points on the STOP-BANG test. GP mentioned a sleep study but no details on home vs lab. What would you recommend? Seems that I really need to do something about it.

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Sierra +0 points · over 2 years ago Sleep Patron

With a higher score on the STOP-BANG and if there are no other medical conditions, you would look like a candidate for the at home study. It is also likely less of a wait to get an at home study. They are less expensive for your insurance company, so they may be more cooperative in doing one. Here is a link to an article on the pros and cons of the lab vs at home tests. The basic difference is that the lab study collects more data, including brain activity so they can determine what stage of sleep you are in. But at the end of the day you are either prescribed a CPAP or not. The real test is actually doing an at home trial with a CPAP to see what it does and how tolerant you are of it. Try to get a free trial so you can find out if it is worth getting one.

At Home vs In Lab Sleep Study

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wiredgeorge +0 points · over 2 years ago Sleep Enthusiast

To most primary care physicians, sleep disorders are a borderline science and if your GP doesn't refer you to a sleep specialist, then you should insist on it. Right from snoring and other signs to a guess at sleep apnea tells me that your doctor's recommendations should be tempered by some self-education on your part. If you display the signs of sleep apnea, an in-lab study is by far the most preferable path. Then do some study on PAP therapy and oral appliances; either can be effective if one is indicated vs the other. Many sleep docs will attempt to prescribe PAP therapy when an oral applaince is not mentioned so keep that in mind. Hopefully your sleep doc won't pipe-line you into one therapy without exploring all treatment options; mine did but then I have to use a Bipap machine at the highest pressure setting so the oral appliance route was probably not in the cards anyway. Good luck- get educated on sleep apnea and you get in front of the process if therapy is needed.

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sleeptech +0 points · about 2 years ago Sleep Enthusiast

The only way to know if you have OSA is with a sleep study. There's really no short cut.

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wiredgeorge +0 points · about 2 years ago Sleep Enthusiast

You can have a sneaky wife video tape you while sleeping and then waking with a gasp after not breathing for a minute or two. That is a pretty good indicator! (that is what my missus did). I couldn't believe I had sleep apnea nor had I ever heard of it. The video was shown to my primary care doc and she agreed with my wife's assessment and off to the sleep clinic for a study I went. I am certain I have brain damage because when I was about 18 years old, I seem to remember I knew EVERYTHING and today I am old and fairly sure I know very little.

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BreathlessD +0 points · about 2 years ago Original Poster

Thanks everybody. I got a referral to a sleep apnea specialist ... Anything I can do in the meantime? After reading about all the negative effects of sleep apnea, I am somewhat worried ...

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BreathlessD +0 points · about 2 years ago Original Poster

Thanks everybody. I got a referral to a sleep apnea specialist .... Anything I can do in the meantime? After reading about all the negative effects of sleep apnea, I am somewhat worried ...

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Sierra +0 points · about 2 years ago Sleep Patron

While you are waiting you may want to do a bit of research on the type of sleep apnea test you want to get. The traditional method is to have you sleep overnight in a sleep lab while the current trend when there are no other complications is to set you up with a portable unit which you wear overnight at home. I think the basic difference is that the home test is less intrusive, but it does not give quite a detailed a report. But they are both quite adequate to diagnose sleep apnea. Here is a link that may help you out a bit if you are allowed that decision choice.

Home vs Lab Sleep Study

And you may want to think down the road a bit about a CPAP machine. Assuming you have bread and butter basic apnea there are two choices of machines. One uses fixed pressure and you will need a second in lab test to determine the optimum pressure that it is to be set at (titration study). It used to be they were much cheaper and insurance companies preferred them. Now, there are Automatic machines that determine the pressure themselves, thus eliminating the need for the titration lab test. That is now the more current method of going and the one I would recommend. There is minimal difference in cost to get the auto machines.

And last in my opinionated opinion I think the best automatic CPAP currently available for run of the mill apnea is the ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet For Her. And yes even for males the "For Her" version is the better choice. It offers an optional automatic mode which is tuned for lower pressures. It may or may not work better, but it gives you two choices to try in the same machine "Standard" or "For Her". Your provider and/or insurance company may push for one machine or another, but I would push back and demand the "good one". I would also try to get a heated hose for comfort. Here is a link to learn a bit more about this model:

ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet For Her

And last when you get the sleep study done insist on a full explanation of the results and a full written copy of the report with a copy of the prescription if a machine is provided. If you have any concerns about what they are recommending come back here for some input to help sort it out. Some providers are good, and some not so good. It really helps to go into this with your eyes wide open.

If you do not have insurance to cover the costs, then you may want to check on line prices for the machine. It should run in the $800-900 range for an initial setup. You will need a prescription to buy on line though.

Hope that helps some,

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wiredgeorge +0 points · about 2 years ago Sleep Enthusiast

You have a sleep study in the works. Best not to worry about the consequences of any potential side effects from sleep apnea since there is nothing you can do. Once diagnosed, you will get a prescription and I DO repeat DO agree that the study should be fully explained. The places that do these studies often make the doctor kind of invisible so insist on a copy of the study and if possible to speak to the sleep doc who writes the prescription. I never saw or heard from ANY sleep doctor; I had to have my insurance company yell at the sleep clinic to get a copy of the study. I sat down and looked up all the medical jargon. I googled this jargon to get some sense of what was going on. IF you have a prescription, you may be shuffled off to a durable medical equipment store (aka DME). Try and find out WHICH DMEs in your area your insurance will work with and then google them for reputation. You will find that FEW IF ANY have decent customer service reputations but pick the best of the lot if you are able. The DME will likely only follow the prescription and will only carry a single maker of PAP machines so you will not likely get some sort of choice between PAP manufacturers. This might be a good question to ask them if you get a chance to find your own DME. I have a ResMed machine and am happy with it but other makers are also just as good. Look up the brand/maker and see if they look mainstream. There are reports of off brands being passed out by some DMEs. This is what you can do while waiting and hopefully the path to good sleep will be smooth for you. AND REPORT BACK ON THE PROCESS! Good luck!

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