Knowledge Is Power

This is a very helpful maxim in every-day life, and none more-so for people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

Once diagnosed, sufferers are kitted out with a CPAP machine and mask. As many OSA sufferers are aware, there are problems associated with getting used to wearing a face mask and getting the best results out of CPAP machines.

Due to the volume of sufferers that staff at sleep clinics throughout Scotland have to cope with, the extent of the relationship that develops between clinicians and patients is often fairly superficial. More time and more staff would therefore be very helpful. However, the chances of this happening are very remote, given the financial restrictions that are being applied in NHS establishments.

It is therefore increasingly necessary for sufferers to arm themselves with knowledge about OSA so that they can inform hospital staff that they have evidence that can help demonstrate how well, or how poorly, the treatment they are receiving is doing.

There is an amazing range of technology that can be accessed easily through the internet nowadays, and sleep apnoea sufferers should be able to take advantage of this through finding out what is available and how to gain access to what can be valuable information.

For example, there are mobile phone apps that monitor sleep patterns, some of which are free or low cost. Top-rated apps are: Sleep Cycle and Sleepbot. These allow patients to instantly access via their phone the quality of the sleep they have just had, and these details can be downloaded onto a computer then printed out and, depending on what the results shown are, can be used to let hospital staff see what is going on. This might result in the sleep clinic staff deciding that it would be better to give a patient a different type of mask, a humidifier or even a CPAP machine that automatically adjusts the pressure of the air it delivers.

Another helpful device is a fingertip Oximeter. This measures oxygen saturation in the blood with additional pulse readings. Some have connections to link the pulse oximeter to a computer. Models may include memory storage and oxygen alarms. Again, the information revealed will be helpful when talking to medical staff.

Online forums for OSA sufferers that are also useful, as they reveal many problems – and their solutions – experienced by others. A good example of this is hope2sleepguide.co.uk