Overcoming Obstacles to Life-Saving Sleep Apnea Treatment
Sleep apnea is a dangerous health condition and a growing problem among Americans. Since its introduction to sleep medicine in the 1980s, CPAP therapy has become the clear standard for treating OSA.
Recent statistics show that obstructive sleep apnea is an increasingly common diagnosis in the U.S. It affects 17% of men and about 9% of women between the ages of 50 and 70. Thankfully, successful treatment is possible. When used consistently, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy effectively alleviates the symptoms and life-threatening effects of OSA in virtually all patients. Managing the condition means improving sleep quality, increasing energy, and reducing the serious health risks related to it. Some studies have even shown that successful CPAP therapy can reverse brain damage caused by severe sleep apnea.
Yet, decades later, there are still some significant challenges to accessing CPAP therapy and sticking with it. Why is such a simple fix still so hard to access and use consistently?
What Are the Obstacles to CPAP Therapy?
In many cases, CPAP therapy can be a life-saving solution, not to mention its capacity to help patients live longer and feel better. But not everyone has been able to get the therapeutic device that they need. Why? The crucial obstacles to successful therapy include cost, insurance coverage, adherence, and the time needed to see improvement.
Getting diagnosed for sleep apnea requires an overnight sleep study, but it has become easier and less expensive in recent years. Home-based testing for sleep disorders usually costs a fraction of overnight analysis at a sleep center, and is often covered by insurance.
Today, CPAP therapy is the most popular and effective sleep apnea treatment option. As with many things in the health care system, however, funding for CPAP devices is still a barrier for patients. This is especially true for those with lower income levels.
The good news is that those with diagnosed sleep apnea have a lot of payment options these days. Some may prefer to rent the device for a low monthly fee. Plus, there are many brands and types of devices available that range in price.
For others, the best option is to purchase or lease a CPAP machine with the help of their health insurance or Medicare coverage. Because insurers don’t want to pay for machines that go unused, many now require the patient to track use with an app. This is easy to do and your sleep specialist can help you get it set up. We recommend getting informed about your specific insurance policy, deductibles, and limitations before making a decision.
The success of CPAP therapy in treating OSA largely depends on the consistent use of the machine whenever the person goes to sleep. Clearly, the treatment cannot work if the person chooses to struggle with the symptoms of sleep apnea alone – without the use of the life-saving CPAP device. And often compliance is the biggest hurdle doctors and sleep clinicians have when it comes to helping patients manage their symptoms and reduce the associated health risks.
This is why many insurance providers request that their clients use apps to record and transmit data about the use of their CPAP machine. Frequently, coverage is dependent on compliance, meaning that clients are required to use the device for a certain number of nights or a minimum of hours per month.
There is support available for those who find it difficult to use their CPAP machine regularly. Common obstacles include discomfort caused by the mask, nasal dryness or congestion from the strong airflow, and difficulty falling asleep. Ask your sleep specialist for recommendations to improve your compliance. Something as simple as wearing your mask during the day to get used to it, using a nasal spray, or practicing relaxation techniques can make all the difference.
Get more tips on How to Make Sure that CPAP Therapy Works for You.
Not everyone feels better after just one night of CPAP therapy. Though some notice an immediate improvement, for others, it can have a cumulative effect from regular use over time and they feel better gradually. Sometimes this process can take a few weeks or months after beginning treatment. In fact, bed partners are often the first ones to notice decreased snoring and elimination of apneas during the night.
Dedication to treatment is key to managing sleep apnea. When patients stick to therapy for the long-term, they are more likely to feel better and experience an improvement in symptoms and side effects. To maintain your level of commitment, get informed about the risks of OSA and the many benefits of successful therapy.
Ask about our Sleep Coaching service designed to help those with sleep apnea improve their success rate with CPAP therapy.
The Importance of Overcoming the Obstacles to CPAP Therapy
It is important to think of the treatment as a tool to achieve wellness, rather than a burden or inconvenience. Plus, treatment can be a great opportunity to use new-found energy to make lifestyle improvements—like diet and exercise—that will help decrease symptoms or alleviate the condition altogether. If you are struggling to consistently stick with CPAP therapy, ask your physician and sleep clinician about other effective treatment options, including Inspire Sleep Therapy and oral devices.
Related article: How CPAP Therapy Is Helping People with OSA Live Longer.
Tackling the Obstacles Standing in the Way of Your Health
Don’t let anything stand in the way of successfully managing obstructive sleep apnea and its symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your primary physician and request overnight, in-home sleep testing.
The trained staff at Sleep Health Solutions will work with your healthcare insurance to get you the diagnostic and treatment solutions that you need. Contact Sleep Health Solutions by filling out the form below and requesting a consultation.