While most people who start using a CPAP machine understand that it can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea so they feel better rested in the morning, many do not realize that this is far from the only way that using these devices can benefit their overall well-being.
More and more often, studies are finding other health benefits that come from treating sleep apnea through the use of a CPAP device. Here is a closer look at some of the important ways that using a CPAP machine will benefit your health.
Negative Health Effects of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is most commonly identified by the disruptions to your breathing that take place during the night. Individuals with sleep apnea will often snort, snore, or gasp for breath during their sleep. Many even briefly stop breathing altogether.
In obstructive sleep apnea, these issues are the result of soft tissue at the back of the throat collapsing. The less common variant, known as central sleep apnea, is the result of improper signaling from the brain to the muscles that control the breathing process.
While sleep apnea can affect almost anyone, it is more likely to occur in men over the age of 40. Other risk factors, like being overweight, can also increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
Most people discover that they have sleep apnea because of their partner, who is typically the first to notice snoring or gasping for breath during the night. However, the individual suffering from sleep apnea may consistently feel like they didn’t get enough sleep even after a full night's rest. Other common symptoms include waking up with a headache or a dry or sore throat.
While a lack of energy may not seem like a big issue initially, sleep apnea’s long-term side effects can prove especially problematic. Sleep apnea is a contributing factor to several other conditions that can greatly impact your quality of life. Getting a diagnosis from a medical professional, as well as a CPAP prescription, will make all the difference in keeping your sleep apnea from resulting in more serious long term consequences.
Here are some of the conditions CPAP treatment has been proven to help.
1. Fight Depression
A recent study from Flinders University has cemented CPAP treatment’s ability to decrease depression rates among patients. The study focused on individuals who suffer from cardiovascular disease, in large part because people with this condition are two to three times as likely to experience clinical depression as the general population. This creates a cyclical problem because depression subsequently increases the risk for stroke and heart attack.
As the authors of the paper wrote, "After following [patients] for an average of 3.7 years, we found that CPAP provided significant reductions in depression symptoms compared with those who were not treated for [obstructive sleep apnea]. The improvement for depression was apparent within six months and was sustained.”
Interestingly, the impact on depression was judged to be independent of improved sleep quality. However, studies from the CDC have also found a more direct link between sleep apnea and depression, with common sleep apnea symptoms frequently triggering feelings of failure or hopelessness.
Left untreated, depression can have severe negative consequences on several facets of an individual’s life. Anxiety, apathy, mood swings, social isolation, an inability to concentrate, and thoughts of suicide can disrupt normal social interactions and even put one’s physical safety at risk. Depression can also contribute to fatigue and changes in appetite, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain or weight loss.
Depression and a lack of sleep can both contribute to everyday symptoms like irritability and fatigue. This can have a direct impact on performance at school or work, while also harming personal relationships. Addressing the underlying issues contributing to these behavioral changes will improve job performance and your relationships with loved ones.
With mental health increasingly making headlines these days, finding ways to combat depressive symptoms is more important than ever. While CPAP treatment won’t necessarily cause clinical depression to go away, the results of these recent studies show that improving sleep quality can have a powerful impact on your emotional health.
2. Reduce the Risk of Diabetes
Another recent study has further highlighted how CPAP treatment can help sleep apnea patients reduce their risk for diabetes. As reported in MD Mag, a retrospective study looked at incidences of type 2 diabetes among over 1,200 individuals who suffered from sleep apnea. The results highlighted just how significant a role sleep apnea can play on this condition, as well as how big of a difference CPAP treatment can make.
According to MD Mag, “patients with untreated, moderate [obstructive sleep apnea] reported a two-fold greater risk of diabetes development,” while those with severe obstructive sleep apnea had an even higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Following CPAP treatment guidelines mattered for avoiding this problematic outcome. As the article observed, “Routine CPAP use — observed in about one-third of patients with moderate or severe [obstructive sleep apnea] — was associated with a 52.8% reduction of diabetes incidence.”
With the rise in obesity rates on a national scale, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea have both become more prevalent than in the past. While the study did not find a direct connection between CPAP therapy and obesity, the reduction in the onset of diabetes highlights just how important it is to seek treatment.
Type 2 diabetes starts with relatively minor symptoms, such as increased hunger and thirst, blurred vision, or more frequent infections. Over time, however, the complications associated with diabetes can result in severe disabilities or even take your life. Heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, and eye damage are all likely to occur as a result of type 2 diabetes. The condition increases the risk of serious infection from even minor cuts, which could require the amputation of an infected limb. Individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
Needless to say, the far reaching consequences of type 2 diabetes make it a condition that should be avoided at all costs. By following CPAP treatment recommendations, you will have one more tool in your arsenal to keep this condition at bay.
3. Stave Off Heart Disease
Sleep apnea has also been consistently connected with several heart-related problems. Issues linked with sleep apnea include high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke. The reasons behind these problems stem from the lack of oxygen in the body during a sleep apnea episode.
As oxygen levels fall, your brain responds by signaling the nervous system to increase blood pressure to ensure an adequate flow of oxygen to the brain and heart. When this issue occurs repeatedly over time, the blood vessels will begin to behave in a similar way during the day. This can quickly lead to hypertension.
While hypertension itself often does not have any symptoms, if left untreated, it will lead to more serious conditions like heart disease. This will also increase your risk for life threatening incidents like stroke and heart attack.
Interestingly, high blood pressure and sleep apnea seem to be interrelated. Those who develop high blood pressure become more likely to experience sleep apnea. Those who first have sleep apnea subsequently become more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Hypertension is a complicated issue that won’t go away just because of CPAP treatment. Patients who suffer from this condition will also need to make changes to their diet and exercise habits to improve their health. Many may also need to take additional medications to manage their condition. However, by addressing a contributing factor to high blood pressure by using a CPAP machine, you can lower your risk for more serious forms of heart disease.
4. Stop Headaches
While headaches may not seem as serious as the other health issues that have been discussed, there is no denying that they can significantly disrupt your day. Headaches that occur due to sleep apnea appear during the morning, and will typically occur 15 times or more during a single month.
These headaches do not result in nausea or sensitivity to sound like a migraine, but will cause an uncomfortable pressure on both sides of the head. These headaches occur because of the accumulation of carbon dioxide that occurs during sleep apnea episodes.
While sleep apnea headaches tend to go away within the first four hours of the day, they can still make it difficult to get through your morning routine like you normally would. Recurring headaches can make it hard to concentrate, or they might increase your likelihood of calling in sick for work. Even when you can make it to work, the constant ache can make it difficult to perform as well as you otherwise would.
Though these seem like minor problems, you don’t want recurring headaches to cause you to do poorly at work — something that could even cause you to lose your job. Nor do you want to suffer through the first several hours of the morning. By using a CPAP machine to ensure that your brain gets enough oxygen throughout the night, you will be able to prevent these headaches entirely so you can feel better from the moment you wake up.
Which CPAP Machine is Right For You?
While it is clear that using a CPAP machine can provide significant health benefits in the long run, you will only be able to enjoy these healthier outcomes if you consistently use your equipment in accordance with your therapy guidelines.
Unfortunately, many people are inconsistent with their treatment or give up on it because they struggle to adapt to their treatment. Others fail to get adequate treatment because of leaking masks or other issues.
Because of this, it is essential that you work with your medical provider to find the right machine and mask combination for your needs. For example, if you find your prescribed pressure to be uncomfortable, you may benefit from a machine that offers a ramping feature, like the ResMed AirSense 10. These devices initially deliver a lower level of air pressure, waiting to “ramp up” to your prescribed pressure level until after you have fallen asleep.
Patients who continue to suffer discomfort may also benefit from a BiPAP device like the Respironics DreamStation BiPAP Auto with Heated Humidifier DSX700T11. BiPAP devices deliver reduced pressure during exhalation for more comfortable breathing during the night. Many of these devices automatically adjust to your breathing patterns throughout the night to ensure comfortable air pressure delivery at all times.
The right mask will also have a significant impact on the quality of your treatment. Carefully consider your own breathing and sleeping patterns to determine which mask style will be right for you. For example, people who breathe through through their mouth at night or experience chronic congestion should generally use a full face mask. Individuals with sensitive skin generally find less cumbersome nasal masks or nasal pillows to be less irritating. These masks are also less likely to induce feelings of claustrophobia.
Regardless of which mask style you choose, you should double check for a proper fit to minimize leaks. Regularly cleaning your mask and following the recommended replacement schedule will also ensure optimal performance.
If your CPAP treatment doesn’t seem to be working like it should, consult with your doctor. In addition to prescribing the appropriate air pressure level for your sleep apnea needs, your doctor can help you determine which mask type — and even which device — will best help you.
The long-term health benefits of CPAP treatment cannot be overlooked, especially if you suffer from nightly sleep apnea episodes. Unfortunately, many insurance providers only provide partial coverage for CPAP equipment and accessories. Others don’t cover this treatment at all.
If your insurance has left you with a significant financial responsibility toward your sleep apnea treatment, Help Medical Supplies is ready to assist you. We offer many of today’s most popular CPAP machines, masks, and accessories at discounted prices to help you better afford your treatment.
We further strive to make your treatments more affordable by offering free shipping on all orders over $89. Available financing programs are also available to help you split your purchase into more affordable monthly payments. If you pay off your qualifying purchase within six months, you won’t even have to pay any interest fees.
Addressing your sleep apnea will do more for your well-being than simply help you have more energy during the day. By dealing with underlying issues that contribute to other emotional and physical health problems, properly using your CPAP device will help you live better and feel better than ever before. Contact us today, and we’ll help you make that a reality!