If you have been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), then you may have lots of questions. What do I need to do to get better? How will my daily life be affected? And what exactly is OSA? Here is the scoop about the basics of OSA.
First – what is it? OSA, also called sleep apnea, is a condition that causes you to wake up many, many times over the course of a night. This happens because your airways become blocked while you sleep. These short but frequent interruptions affect your sleep, causing you to become irritable, constantly tired, and unable to focus.
Next – how do you get diagnosed? You need to see a sleep specialist who can record your symptoms and history, and conduct tests to see if you do have OSA.
If you do have OSA, then you get to get effective treatment. That involves several components. The first is changes in lifestyle. Stop smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, get more exercise, and eat a well-balanced diet will go a long way in helping reduce your symptoms. But there is a medical component too. Chances are, you will need to get a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. It sends a gentle stream of pressurized air into your airways to keep them open while you sleep.
Keep in mind that all of this takes time. If you suspect you have OSA, ask your partner, if you have one, to tell you if you snore, seem to toss and turn, or have trouble sleeping. That will be the first clue. Then you need to make an appointment with your doctor, who may refer you to a sleep specialist. Your sleep test may involve staying overnight at a clinic. Then the specialist will analyze your results and prescribe the best course of action.
Finally, you need to get your CPAP machine. You can choose from various makes and models, from those that cover just your nasal passages to those that cover your face. It also takes time to get used to wearing the machine at night, and you have to learn to take care of your machine. If you have pets, allergies, or live in a dusty locale, then you need to take extra care.
This may seem like a lot of work, and rightfully so. But you and your health are worth every moment.
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