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What is Sleep Apnea?

Apnea is a Greek word meaning “without breath”. When a person stops breathing while sleeping they are experiencing Sleep Apnea.

Following are the three classes of Sleep Apnea:

  1. Central Sleep Apnea: While sleeping a person’s brain “forgets” to signal the chest muscles to breathe and breathing stops.
  2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common form of Sleep Apnea. Patients with OSA breathe normally, but the airflow is temporarily blocked from the lungs by an obstruction caused when the soft tissue in the airway blocks the passage of air. The airway can also become blocked if a person has an abnormally large uvula (the floppy thing at the beginning of your throat), tonsils or tongue. The structure of your jaw and airway play a part in OSA too.
  3. Mixed Sleep Apnea: This type of Sleep Apnea is the most difficult to treat. Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of the preceding types of apnea. The brain “forgets” to signal the body to breathe and when it does “remember” the person can’t breathe because of a blockage in the airway.
    In all cases of Sleep Apnea the body is momentarily asphyxiated. The sudden drop in oxygen levels causes carbon dioxide levels to rise in the blood. To protect itself the body increases the person’s heart rate in order to move the remaining oxygen throughout the body. The health problems of individuals with Sleep Apnea are directly related to the decreased oxygen supply and the extra load that is put on the heart. The brain then signals for the body to breathe and this interrupts the Sleep Cycle.

The Sleep Cycle:

A person with Sleep Apnea does not have a normal sleep cycle. The sleep cycle has five stages: drowsiness, then light sleep, drifting to deep sleep, then Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M) and finally, waking. A person with sleep apnea stops breathing for a few seconds to a minute and the brain then signals the body, because of a lack of oxygen, to start breathing again. When the signal to breathe is given it temporarily wakes the body and the person has to start the Sleep Cycle over again. The body does not get the amount of sleep and recovery it needs, leaving the person feeling tired and groggy the next day. Some people can experience apnea events hundreds of times a night.

Because the body has to increase the heart rate to move oxygen, sleep apnea can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Impotence
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart disease

Do I have Sleep Apnea?

Do you fall asleep while watching television? Have you ever nodded off during meetings or in mid conversation? Do you battle fatigue while driving your car? Do you always feel as if you need a good night of sleep? Does your spouse complain that you snore all night? Answering “yes” to any of these questions could indicate that you have a problem with Sleep Apnea.

Because a person with sleep apnea may not recall waking during the night to breathe, they may be unaware that they have Sleep Apnea. “I don’t recall ever waking up to breathe,” is a common response.

Some of the Symptoms that may indicate Sleep Apnea are:

  • Snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor memory
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Waking several times during the night
  • Unexplained heart or respiratory failure
  • Chest retraction (sunken chest) – seen in children suffering from sleep apnea
  • Irritability
  • Excessive perspiring during sleep
  • Reduced libido
  • Rapid weight gain

People suffering from sleep apnea usually find ways to compensate for their fatigue and may not realize how tired they actually are. To compensate a person may use caffeine or another stimulant, take frequent short walks or use other activities to stay awake.

Sleep apnea may be life-threatening if left untreated. You should see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Sleep Apnea is most common in men, overweight individuals and snorers. Age increases ones chance of developing Sleep Apnea. The older you are the greater your chances of developing Sleep Apnea.

How do I get treatment for Sleep Apnea?

First you must schedule an appointment with your family doctor. Poor sleep, like any medical issue, should be discussed with your primary physician as the first step in the treatment process. Discuss with him/her the symptoms you are having. If your Doctor feels you may be suffering from Sleep Apnea he/she will schedule an appointment with a Sleep Clinic for a sleep study. Sparrow Sleep Lab is Sparrow Health Systems sleep study unit.

How is a Sleep Disorder diagnosed?

At the Sparrow Sleep Center sleep testing is scheduled during regular sleep hours, either night or day depending on an individual’s schedule. The sleep testing is performed in a comfortable, home-like environment by specially trained technologists. The rooms are private, equipped with full sized beds, cable TV and VCRs, a private bathroom and shower facilities. A sleep technologist places small sensors on various parts of the body for documentation of brain waves and muscle activity during sleep. The sensors allow the technologist to monitor the patient’s sleep from another room. The patient will be required to be at the sleep center for a minimum of seven hours.

The Sparrow Sleep Center has been an accredited sleep disorder center since 1995. The American Association of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is a professional association whose goal is to set high standards and ensure quality patient care in the field of sleep disorders medicine. By attaining accreditation, the Sparrow Sleep Center has demonstrated that it meets the quality standards developed by the AASM.

Sleep Center physicians evaluate, diagnose and initiate treatment for people with various sleep-related complaints. The Sparrow Sleep Center acts as a resource for patients who have sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. It seeks to increase each patient’s knowledge and understanding of their sleep disorder. By helping to diagnose sleep disorders and making recommendations for treatment, the Sparrow Sleep Center strives to assist patients with improving their overall health, self-regard and productivity.

A physician order is required to schedule and perform sleep testing. Consultation with a sleep specialist physician is available upon request. All physicians interpreting sleep data are board certified in sleep medicine.

How is Sleep Apnea treated?

Your treatment will depend on the severity of your disorder.
If you are diagnosed with a MILD case of Sleep Apnea, behavioral changes are all that may be required to improve your sleep. These changes may include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
  • Change sleep positions to promote regular breathing
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can increase the swelling in the upper airway which may worsen both snoring and apnea.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back

In the event that your are diagnosed with a MODERATE to SEVERE case of Sleep Apnea, the lab technicians may recommend the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine when you sleep. With the CPAP Machine you will wear a carefully fitted mask over your nose or over your mouth and nose. The CPAP, which is a small air compressor, is connected via tubing to the mask. As the compressor pumps air, at a prescribed pressure, through the tube and mask into your airway, the pressure pushes against the walls of your airway and keeps it open. The amount of pressure coming out of the compressor will depend on how much is needed to keep your airway open, as determined by your study.

If the diagnosis is a SEVERE case, your physician may recommend a Bi-level machine. The Bi-level machine is similar to a CPAP machine except that the air pressure varies. The pressure is greater when you inhale and as you exhale the pressure decreases. The experts from the sleep lab and your physician will decide which pressure settings are right for your condition.

How can Sparrow Medical Supply help?

Quality Equipment: We use equipment from leading manufacturers. They stand behind their equipment and that makes it easy for us to do the same. Sparrow Medical has been building solid relationships with our suppliers for over 20 years. With open communication and a “serve the patient first attitude” we strive to satisfy our customers with outstanding service and quality products.

The Sparrow Network: As part of the Sparrow Family of Services we work directly with the Sparrow Sleep Center to schedule appointments and make your visit to Sparrow Medical Supply as trouble free and timely as possible. Sparrow Medical Supply has seven locations throughout Mid-Michigan. They are located in Lansing, Grand Ledge, Williamston, St. Johns, Ionia, Alma, and Mt. Pleasant and our service area is a 60-mile radius from each store. Products, help and other information are also available at our online store.

Satisfaction: Sparrow Medical Supply has thousands of patients using our CPAP and Bi-Level equipment and supplies. Our average satisfaction rating is *97 percent on all our products and services.

Professionalism: Trained respiratory care professionals are always available to answer questions and ensure that each patient is fully instructed on the operation, safety and care of the CPAP or Bi-Level equipment and supplies.

Eligibility Notification: We will automatically set you up on a quarterly notification program and will contact you to let you know when your insurance company will allow for additional equipment or supplies. Our knowledgeable staff keeps track of the sometimes confusing insurance rules and regulations in order to allow you to get the most from your insurance coverage.

Insurance Billing Services: We bill most third party insurance companies for covered equipment and supplies.

We quickly obtain prior approval from your insurance company, so you know which equipment and supplies are covered as well as your cost, if any. Our Provider Relations Associates are knowledgeable in insurance company billing codes and policies. They will help you feel assured that you are covered for the equipment you are receiving.

We accept: PHP, SPHN, BCN, Blue Cross, Medicare, Medicaid and many other third party insurances.

CPAP/BiPAP’s and Accessories:

We carry a full line of CPAP and Bi-Level equipment and supplies from leading manufacturers of durable medical equipment. Many products are available online and because we have a long list of suppliers we most likely can find parts and accessories for older equipment as well.

Items Include:

  • CPAP’s
  • Bi-Level’s
  • Masks
  • Mask Parts
  • Tubing
  • Filters
  • Headgear
  • Heated Humidifiers
  • Non-Heated Humidifiers