Frequently Asked Questions

What is sleep apnea?


There are three forms of sleep apnea: obstructive (OSA), central (CSA), and a combination of the two called mixed. OSA is the most common form. Risk factors for OSA include being overweight, a family history of the condition, allergies, a small airway, and enlarged tonsils. In OSA, breathing is interrupted by a blockage of airflow, while in CSA breathing stops due to a lack of effort to breathe. People with sleep apnea may not be aware they have it. In many cases, it is first observed by a family member. Sleep apnea is often diagnosed with an overnight sleep study. For a diagnosis of sleep apnea, more than five episodes per hour must occur. OSA affects 1 to 6% of adults and 2% of children. It affects males about twice as often as females. While people of any age can be affected, it occurs most commonly among those 55 to 60 years old. Central sleep apnea affects less than 1% of people.




What is a sleepapnee machine?


Apnea machines are used to control the air pressure in airways of a patient, thereby keeping airways open to ensure uninterrupted sleep.


There are many benefits to using a Sleep Apnea machine. First, it can reduce snoring, caused by apneas. If you have Sleep Apnea, using a CPAP, APAP or BiPAP machine can make a big difference in overall health and quality of life.




What kind of apnea machines are available?


Apnea machines can be broadly catagorized into three types: CPAP, APAP, BiPAP machines. Each type controls airflow in a different way.




How does a CPAP, APAP and BiPAP machine differ?


A CPAP machine continuously blows air at a set constant air pressure while a patient is sleeping.

An APAP machine automatically adjusts the pressure on a breath by breath basis. A BiPAP or BiLevel machine blows two different pressures during inhalation and exhalation.




Can I order a an apnea machine from BERIEN via my medical aid?


Yes, some clients have been able to successfully claim the purchase of an Apnea Machine from their medical aid. Please contact a BERIEN representative for more information as the diagnosis, type of claim and your medical aid plan does influence the success of a claim.




What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?


The signs and symptoms of obstructive (OSA) and central sleep apneas (CSA) overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include: - Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would usually be reported by another person
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)

(https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20377631)




How can sleep apnoea cause shortness of breath?


Upper airway obstruction associated with sleep apnoea occurs because soft tissue such as the soft palate lowers and narrows the airway. The obstruction results in resistance to airflow. Airflow to the lungs is reduced. Inhalation becomes more difficult and stops at intervals. The body has to work harder for air to reach the lungs. Your brain tries to compensate to waken you or keeps you semi-awake so that you lack deep sleep. You experience sleep apnoea resulting in:

  • Oxygen deprivation;
  • Insomnia;
  • Lack of deep sleep;
  • Strain on organs;
  • Morning headache;
  • Daytime sleepiness;
  • Tendency to depression.
Use of a CPAP machine can almost immediately make a difference.




Can a decrease in oxygen intake be measured?


The medical term for low blood oxygen level is “hypoxemia”. The percentage oxygen in the blood can by determined very accurately by a blood sample analysis. It can also be measured at home with a hypoxia meter (SpO2 meter) which is attached to the finger.

These meters give only momentaneous readings. By taking a deep breath the reading will increase and by sustaining from breathing the reading will decrease.

To determine whether a person’s blood oxygen level lowers during sleep, an oxygen meter which records the readings is needed. This is what the RESmart GII SpO2-meter, which interfaces with the GII CPAP, does. The change in oxygen levels throughout the night can be determined. The average oxygen level maintained during sleep is also shown on the CPAP report.

Relative expensive watch like SpO2 -meters are also available for sportsmen who want to measure their oxygen levels during exercising.




When is the percentage oxygen in a person’s blood too low?


A reading of 95% is considered normal. A reading below 90% is too low. The person develops symptoms of shortness of breath and confusion. As the oxygen level falls to the low 80’s, organ damage can result and be life threatening.




How can one’s blood oxygen levels be increased?


A CPAP machine, i.e. a positive airway pressure machine can help. The system blows positive pressurised air into the airway and opens the airway for improved air and oxygen intake. The machine should be used all night every night.

The mask used with a CPAP has a port where oxygen from a cylinder or a oxygen machine can be provided. Oxygen enriched air can thus be inhaled. During a breathing emergency enough oxygen can still be inhaled.

An oxygen machine can be used on its own to provide air enriched it oxygen. The machine removes nitrogen from in taken air and releases air with oxygen concentrated to more than 90%. The oxygen is canalised with tubing and inhaled via holes or short tubes placed on the upper lip.