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Building Your CPAP Support Team is a critical step in your treatment. There is the old saying "It Takes a Village". There is power in numbers.
1) Because it can be difficult to adjust to the cumbersome CPAP (CPAP, AutoPAP, BiPAP) treatment for OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). About half the people who start CPAP therapy fail, and failure increases their risk for heart attack, stroke, car accidents, and diminished quality of life.
2) Because selection of equipment, its set-up, and ongoing adjustments usually have some difficulties. There are many important details and variables. In addition, research is ongoing and equipment technology is rapidly changing.
3) Because for many people there are two missing links – good information sources and an informed person to help with frequent therapy questions. Patients are largely on their own with OSA treatment. Basic and detailed therapy information and ongoing assistance at a local DME (Durable Medical Equipment or home care provider) are not as easy to find as you might expect, or be used to from medical personnel in a hospital or medical clinic. Technicians (respiratory therapists, clinicians, or sleep technicians) even at many national chain DMEs, and even if patient-centered and kind, may be hampered in assisting you by organization constraints (business contracts and fear of litigation), misinformation, or dysfunctional organizational systems. For example, the technician is not allowed to share certain information with you such as general information about pressure settings and refers you to your doctor, who may not be an experienced sleep specialist. If you spoke to the same technician in a more neutral setting such as an AWAKE support group meeting, maybe they could share more general information from their experience. Or the DME sells equipment from only a few manufacturers, so their people only suggest those products, even though you may need better equipment from a different manufacturer. Perhaps they can get you other equipment, but they don’t volunteer that information, it may take a long time to get it, they don't have a refund policy for special orders, and they say they can't handle replacement parts for it. Your doctor, focusing on medicine, probably doesn’t have the time, nor anyone in his/her office, to assist with the many and frequent therapy issues better handled by a respiratory therapist.
Ideal team members: a doctor experienced in sleep medicine, specialist doctors, sleep center/lab, local DME, online DME, online support group, community support group, others with OSA, family and friends acting as helpers or as an advocate, OSA web sites.
4)As with any major change or undertaking in your life a strong and viable support structure is important to success. Starting on CPAP Therapy certainly qualifies as a major change in someone's life as they try to inform themselves in something they may know little about not to mention the actual therapy itself.
With the start of therapy comes a lot of unknowns such as: setting everything up, which mask is the best,dealing with mask leaks,cleaning equipment, products that make therapy easier to deal with, discomfort with the air blowing up your nose or mask fit.
Original writer's Sleep Apnea Blog
Source: Based on personal experience with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Not written by health care professionals. The information and opinions offered are not intended or recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice. © Mile High Sleeper, May 2006. Permission to use for free educational purposes.