INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS

Darwin Sleep Health - CPAP Fitting

A good night sleep is fundamental to everyday functioning. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea syndrome is the most common sleep disorder, and treatment will improve overall quality of life. The prevalence of sleep apnoea is steadily rising; indicating that this condition may have been previously, and may continue to be, grossly under diagnosed in the general population.

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is the periodic cessation of breathing during sleep. The upper airway collapses due to lack of muscle tone or due to abnormal airway function.

Darwin Sleep Health - Apnoea Diagram
This leads to lack of air moving into the lungs, and thus intermittent lack of oxygen in the blood. Although more commonly found in males aged 40 and above, sleep apnoea can affect any age group, including women and children. The main symptoms include loud snoring and severe daytime sleepiness. Others include:

  • Restless sleep
  • Awakening with chest pain or discomfort
  • Morning confusion
  • Personality change, depression
  • Impotence
  • Awakening with choking or gasping
  • Morning dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Memory impairment, difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent awakenings to urinate

Undiagnosed sleep apnoea may lead to:

  • Poor quality of life
  • Driving & work related accidents
  • Heart disease
  • Lack of energy and concentration at work

How is sleep apnoea diagnosed?

Darwin Sleep Health - Bedroom

A diagnosis of sleep apnoea can be established with certainty by testing the patient during sleep. Darwin Private Respiratory & Sleep Health conduct sleep studies as part of our comprehensive service offered to aid with the management of sleep and respiratory disorders.

What is a Sleep Study?

A sleep study is a continuous recording of sleep and breathing patterns overnight. It is a non-invasive test which requires a number of electrodes and sensors to be attached before you go to sleep. Following the sleep study, your recording is analysed and a statistical report is produced. A doctor will review the report to form a diagnosis and / or make recommendations for further investigation or treatment. If you live in an area outside of Darwin, or in a remote community, we are able to schedule your sleep study and appointment with the physician in a 24-hour period so that it is possible to fly-in and fly-out within a 48-hour period, having been tested and started on treatment if necessary.

What treatment is available?

Sleep disorders can be effectively treated and managed in a short time in most cases. Beginning treatment quickly after diagnosis can give dramatic benefits, while failing to do anything about the problem can have serious negative consequences. There are various non-surgical and surgical therapies used to treat sleep apnoea. Your sleep specialist will recommend what is best for you. A common non-surgical approach is the use of a mechanical device known as a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.

Does losing weight and/or giving up smoking help with sleep apnoea?

Darwin Sleep Health - CPAP

In many cases, losing weight can help - although a combination of age, sex, neck size, weight and height are important. Treatment usually improves sleep quality and thus creates more energy, which can help further with weight loss. Smoking is detrimental in general to healthy breathing, so giving up will play a positive role with sleep apnoea in most cases.

Will CPAP Treatment affect my sex life?

Many people are apprehensive about using CPAP treatment for a number of different reasons. CPAP will not negatively affect your sex life, and may actually improve it significantly! In addition to the treatment of snoring, CPAP treatment is likely to improve the quality of sleep, increase energy levels and reduce erectile dysfunction issues. Research suggests that 30-50% of sleep apnoea patients experience impotence, and that CPAP is an effective treatment for impotence as well as sleep apnoea in many cases. Modern CPAP machines are designed to be quieter than the sound of an air conditioner or another person breathing, at around 25dB.

Can I use CPAP on a long-haul flight?

CPAP machines are generally considered a necessary medical device, and are therefore allowed to be carried and used on most long-haul flights. In some cases, airlines may not count the CPAP machine towards your luggage allocation. However, it is important to check with the airline before you travel.

Are other treatments available?

Darwin Sleep Health - Sleep Study Electrodes

Other treatment approaches are available in some cases. These include mouth guards and surgical procedures to alter the shape and size of the mouth and/or airway to prevent obstruction.

Where can I find more information?

If you think you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, please seek guidance from your General Practitioner in the first instance. You can ask to be referred to our clinic to find out more and organise a sleep study. More information can also be found at some of the websites listed below:

Darwin Sleep Health - Our Brochure
Sleep Disorders Australia http://www.sleepoz.org.au
ResMed http://www.resmed.com/au

Download Our Brochure

Download the Sleep Disorders brochure

What is a lung function test and why should I need one?

Pulmonary function tests (PFT’s) are breathing tests to find out how well you move air in and out of your lungs, and how well oxygen enters your body (gas transfer/diffusion study). Lung function tests can be used for various reasons:

  • Compare your lung function to known standards;
  • Measure the effect of chronic diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), or cystic fibrosis;
  • Identify early changes in lung function that might show a need for a change in treatment;
  • Detect narrowing in the airways;
  • Decide if a medicine (such as inhalers/bronchodilator) could be helpful to use;
  • Show whether exposure to substances in your home or workplace have harmed your lungs;
  • Determine your ability to tolerate surgery and medical procedures.
Darwin Sleep Health - Lung Function Testing

How is this lung function test performed?

A technician will help you perform the test and instructions will be given. Spirometry is one of the most commonly ordered lung function tests. The spirometer measures how much air you can breathe into your lungs and how much air you can quickly blow out of your lungs. This test is done by having you take in a deep breath and then, as fast as you can, blow out all of the air. You will be blowing into a tube connected to a machine (spirometer). The spirometry test is often repeated after giving you a medicine (inhaler/puffer/bronchodilator) to find out how much better you might breathe with this type of medicine. You will be asked to repeat this test two or three times to get an accurate measure of your lung function.

What are diffusion studies?

Diffusion tests find out how well the oxygen in the air you breathe into your lungs moves from your lungs into your blood. Like spirometry, this test is done by having you breathe into a mouthpiece connected to a machine. You will be asked to empty your lungs by gently breathing out as much air as you can. Then you will breathe in a quick but deep breath, hold your breath for 10 seconds, and then breathe out as instructed.

How long does it take to complete the test?

It usually takes about 30 minutes to complete the test. To get the most accurate results from your breathing tests, do not smoke for at least 4 hours before. Do not exercise heavily for at least 30 minutes before the test. Do not wear tight clothing that makes it difficult for you to take a deep breath. Do not eat a large meal within 2 hours before the test.

Lung Function

Should I take my usual medication before my lung function test?

It is better to avoid taking puffers/inhalers such as Salbutamol, Ventolin, Atrovent, Ipratropium bromide for at least 4 hours prior to your test and Long acting medications such as Seretide, salmetrol, Eformoterol, Symbicort, sodium cromoglycate for 12 hours. Spiriva, Tiotropium bromide, Theophyllines, Nuelin, Singulair, Montelukast for 24 hours. However if you have symptoms (breathing difficulty/wheezing) and needing to take your medication please continue on them. The tests can be still performed while you are on the medications.

Is there any risk in having Lung function test?

This is a very low-risk test. It takes effort to do this test and you may become tired. If you become light-headed or dizzy during this test, immediately stop blowing and let the technician know. If you are on oxygen, you will usually be asked to be off oxygen for a few minutes before taking this test. Blowing out hard can increase the pressure in your chest, abdomen and eyes. So, you may be advised not to have the tests if you have had any major health issues recently such as a heart attack, stroke or any surgeries. Please bring it to the attention of your doctor or the technician so that your test can be rescheduled for a later date.

What are normal results for lung function tests?

Because individuals vary in size, normal results differ from person to person. For instance, taller people and males tend to have larger lungs whereas shorter people and females have smaller lungs. A person’s lungs grow until they are in their mid-twenties and then after that, lung function falls slightly every year. There are standards that your health care provider uses that are based on your height, weight, age, and gender. These numbers are called the predicted values. If your numbers match the standard, the percent of the predicted number will be 100%. Your own lung function can be tracked over time to help see if you have had a change. If you need any further information please ask your doctor.

Patient information Adapted/ modified from ATS.