Sleep Apnea

The Greek word "apnea" literally means "without breath." There are three types of apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed; of the three, obstructive is the most common. Despite the difference in the root cause of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. In central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed apnea, as the name implies, is a combination of the two. With each apnea event, the brain briefly arouses people with sleep apnea in order for them to resume breathing, but consequently sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.

Sleep apnea is very common, as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Yet still because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.

Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency, and headaches. Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated. Several treatment options exist, and research into additional options continues.

Treatment Options
CPAP: The most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy.

BiPAP: Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure. In this method of treatment, air delivered through a mask can be set at one pressure for inhaling and another for exhaling.

CPAP - Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy.

A CPAP machine is usually about the size of a shoebox but CAN be smaller. A flexible tube connects the machine with a mask or other interface device that is worn over the nose and/or mouth. CPAP works by pushing air through the airway passage at a pressure high enough to prevent apneas and can be prescribed for both obstructive and central sleep apnea. The pressure is set according to the patient's sleep apnea.

The CPAP machine will have one of the following:

  • A mask that covers your nose and mouth
  • A mask that covers your nose only-called nasal continuous positive airway pressure, or NCPAP (this type of mask is most common)
  • Prongs that fit into your nose
CPAP is the most effective nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It is the first treatment choice and the most widely used.

Because CPAP is a medical device, all CPAP units must have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval before they can be sold. For the same reason, you must have a physician's prescription in order to obtain a CPAP. (In this publication, "CPAP," considered a generic term and not a brand name, can refer to any positive pressure device.)

There are several CPAP manufacturers that offer different types of machines with different features. Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have been prescribed CPAP therapy, you may be able to choose one machine among the many offered.

A CPAP, typically covered by insurance as a durable medical equipment benefit, is most often rented or purchased through a home health care company, also known as a durable medical equipment company. CPAPs may also be purchased over the Internet. However, before buying a machine, it is generally a good idea to rent one first (on a rent-to-own plan if possible) for several weeks to make sure that the machine has all the features you need, and to determine if CPAP is working as it should.

BiPAP - Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure

BiPAP stands for Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure. This method of treatment was created in the 1990s.

With the development of BiPAP, air delivered through a mask can be set at one pressure for inhaling and another for exhaling. This makes BiPAP much easier for users to adapt to and also allows neuromuscular disease sufferers to use the device. Because of these dual settings, BiPAP allows people to get more air in and out of the lungs without the natural muscular effort needed to do so.

A BIPAP machine is used when a patient can not breathe completely on their own and needs help getting oxygen into the blood.

BiPAP is especially useful for patients with congestive heart failure and lung disorders. In addition, patients for whom intubation is not possible can benefit from the breathing assistance from BiPAP.

CPAP/BiPAP Equipment

  • CPAP and BiPAP Full Face Masks
  • CPAP and BiPAP Nasal Masks
  • CPAP and BiPAP Machines

Home Respiratory Services

COPD LLC provides quality durable medical equipment services and supplies to patients in their homes. Special or custom orders are available upon request.

We provide free delivery and set-up for patients within a 100 mile radius of our home office in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

An on-call after hours and weekend service is also provided. Our home respiratory equipment services are available to all eligible patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.

We do provide insurance billing to Medicare, Medicaid, private pay, and most secondary insurance providers.

Referral sources receive routine written and verbal communication regarding the current status of their patient and his/her equipment needs. At right is a list of the durable medical equipment and supplies that we currently provide.

Equipment and Supplies
Oxygen Equipment
  • Concentrators
  • Liquid systems
  • Stationary and portable tanks
  • Conserving Devices
Sleep Apnea Equipment
  • BiPAP
  • CPAP
  • Masks
  • Humidifiers
  • Tubing
  • Carry bags
  • Cleaning supplies
Respiratory Equipment
  • Aerosol therapy units
  • Small volume nebulizers
  • IPPB devices
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Overnight oximetry studies
  • Cannulas and masks
  • Oxygen tubing
  • Humidifiers
  • Filters
  • Ear Protectors
  • Water traps
  • Nebulizers
  • Shoulder bag

Oxygen Therapy

We provide equipment for the treatment of hypoxemia and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

Hypoxemia is a condition characterized by a low level of oxygen in the blood.

Your body needs a constant supply of oxygen to function normally. When this supply is reduced or interrupted, you can develop hypoxemia, a low level of oxygen in your blood. Hypoxemia can disrupt your body's functioning and harm vital tissues. In severe cases, it's life-threatening.

The main symptom of hypoxemia is shortness of breath, but depending on how quickly hypoxemia develops, you may experience a reduced capacity for exercise, fatigue and confusion.

Blood oxygen is measured by an arterial blood test or by an oximeter, a small device that's clipped onto your finger. Normal blood oxygen readings range from 95 to 100 percent at sea level. Values under 90 are considered low. Severe hypoxemia occurs when oxygen saturation drops below 80 percent.

Hypoxemia often leads to hypoxia, which is a decrease of oxygen to the tissues of the body. The causes of hypoxemia vary, and may include heart and lung problems, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, anemia, pneumonia and emphysema.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it increasingly difficult for you to breathe.

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main conditions that make up COPD, but COPD can also refer to damage caused by chronic asthmatic bronchitis. In all cases, damage to your airways eventually interferes with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your lungs. COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

COPD is a leading cause of death and illness worldwide. Most COPD is caused by long-term smoking and can be prevented by not smoking or quitting soon after you start. Damage to your lungs can't be reversed, so treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and minimizing further damage.

Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust, also may contribute to COPD.

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