Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) involves being repeatedly aroused from sleep (often hundreds of times per night), not necessarily to full awakening, because breathing has momentarily faltered, as a result of an obstruction of the upper airway. The medical term "apnea" simply means cessation of breathing. This medical problem may not be obvious during a brief exam. OSA is often discovered during a routine physician exam when a patient complains of chronic fatigue, severe daytime drowsiness and in many cases, by a spouse who complains of severe and loud snoring that is accompanied by periods of gasping and coughing (please note: not all snoring is associated with apnea). The prevalence of sleep apnea is greater among men than women.

Home Medical Equipment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients

The CPAP flow generators are commonly referred to as CPAP machines. Standard CPAP machines deliver a constant pressure that is set based on the physician's order. More sophisticated devices may be used in severe cases of OSA that aren't responding well to standard CPAP. These devices include bi-level machines and machines that can self-adjust the pressure in response to the patient (auto-titration). These more sophisticated devices require specific physician orders and medical justification.

The device that allows the pressure and flow to be delivered to the upper airway is called the nasal interface. There are two common interfaces, nasal masks and nasal pillows. The most common is the nasal mask (often called the CPAP mask). Nasal pillows are small, oval shaped latex rubber prongs that fit into the opening of the nostril. They are held in place by a shell that is attached to the headgear. The interface is a very important part of the treatment with CPAP. Selection of an interface that fits the patient well and is comfortable will help to improve patient compliance and satisfaction.