Your questions

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What is AHI?

AHI stands for Apnoea Hypopnea Index and describes the number of respiratory arrests and periods of clearly decreased respiratory lows with a drop in oxygen levels per hour. Example: with 20 apnoea events and 10 hypopnea events, the AHI is equal to 30.  See also What is AHI (Apnoea Hypopnea Index) and how doea this determine severity of OSA? 

What is an arousal?
An arousal is a so-called emergency or protective waking mechanism of the body. It is triggered by a lack of oxygen in the blood, which is caused by respiratory arrest.

Can sleep apnoea be cured?
Unfortunately, most cases involve life-long therapy. Weight reduction often results in marked improvement.

Is respiratory arrest always dangerous?
Even healthy people occasionally experience respiratory disruption at night. The frequency and length of these disruptions determine the danger to one’s health. Treatment should be sought when a person experiences five incidents per hour, each of which lasts more than 10 seconds.

Does snoring damage one’s health in every case?
Snoring does no damage unless it results in respiratory arrest of a certain degree or causes changes in healthy sleep structure.

When is the risk of obstructive sleep apnoea higher?
Overweight patients are particularly at risk. Furthermore, the probability increases with advanced age. Too much alcohol and strong sedatives (also sleeping pills) should be avoided.

Can I do my job despite obstructive sleep apnoea?
As soon as you have grown accustomed to your therapy and your performance has been restored, you can return to your job.

I’m a little afraid of using my device. Will I get enough unused air to inhale?
On or slightly behind the mask, there is an ‘exhalation valve’. This is usually a porous material, a circular slit or a simple hole from which the exhaled air can be expelled. Even with a full mask that covers your mouth and nose, you’ll be able to exhale normally.

What side effects can occur with CPAP therapy?
The most frequently reported side effects are facial marks caused by the mask, runny nose, dry nose and/or dry mouth, irritation of the conjunctiva from drafts, sinus pressure and air in the stomach. Most of the side effects mentioned can be eliminated by adjusting the mask and/or using a humidifier. Patients who have sensitive stomachs could consider auto-CPAP therapy, which uses a lower mean therapy pressure.

How often should I use my device?
Every night without exception. Otherwise, you won’t get any restorative sleep.

How often do I have to clean my device?
The mask, exhalation valve and humidifier should be cleaned daily. The headgear should be cleaned with the same frequency as you change your nightclothes. Hose connections should be cleaned at least once a month.
Tip: You can get an overview of the details from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you’ll find the information in the User Manual.

I have to go to the hospital. What should I do with my therapy device?
You should take it along and inform hospital personnel of your obstructive sleep apnoea. If you have surgery, you should be connected to your therapy device in the recovery room.

My therapy device is on my bedside table. When I use it, the table wobbles and makes noise.
Check the stability of the table. Can you improve it? In any case, you should put something secure underneath the device. Use either a noise-suppressing material or a few newspapers.

When I have a cold, my nose is too stuffed up for me to use my device.
Try to clear your nasal passages with nose drops. In addition, you can try sleeping on your side or with the upper body elevated. A few drops of Olbas Oil on a tissue placed near your maching  may also help.  If those things don’t help and you experience swelling and mucous build-up, then you’ll have to do without your device for a few nights.

I have an open wound on my nose. What can I do?
A first aid cream can help. However, be sure to have the fit of your mask checked. The inhaled air is too cold. Your own body warmth increases the air temperature by about 5°C. If you find that too cold, you can place the non-kink hose under the blanket or comforter on your bed.

CPAP therapy has made me a new person, but lately my dried out nose has really been bothering me.
You apparently need a humidifier. Talk to your doctor or clinic about this problem.  A few drops of Olbas Oil on a tissue placed near your maching  may also help.

Oh no! First a CPAP device and now a humidifier. How can I fit all of that into my bag?
Take your CPAP in its carrying case - take it on board when flying.  Also check out the portable options section if you travel frequently.

We recently had our bedroom walls painted. After the first night, I felt nauseated.
You presumably used a paint containing solvents. Next time, choose paint without solvents. In this case, you should sleep in another room until the odours have disappeared.

Because I have allergies to PVC and silicone, I’m having problems with commercially available masks. What do you advise?
Cut out a piece of soft cloth in the same shape as the mask seal and place it under the part of the mask that rests on your face. Many patients find that this works for them.

I’m planning a long trip. Where can I find help abroad?
Ask your manufacturer for an address list of its service partners.

I’ve already experienced trouble with security at airports. What do you advise?
CPAP is now a very common travel companion and airport security in most countries will now be familiar with this device.  However if you are still concerned take along a note from your doctor/sleep clinic or a ‘manufacturer’s confirmation’ that explains that your device is a piece of medical treatment equipment. 
Read these 2008 notes on Travelling with CPAP

Download this helpful guide to all your questions about Fisher & Paykel Healthcare CPAP machines and their use. 

If you would like to ask a question use the Contacts page form and we will get our medical adviser to answer your question here.

For decades Weinmann has been developing, producing and marketing medical devices for markets around the world. In cooperation with our partners Weinmann design economic health systems for diagnosis and therapy in Sleep Medicine, Home Mechanical Ventilation, Oxygen Medicine and Emergency Medicine.

Some of these questions were answered by © Copyright Weinmann, Hamburg.
Reproduced in the SAANZ website with the express permission of Weinmann.
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