NHS patient….How much has the CPAP machine changed your life?

There’s two sets of outcomes to keep in mind when you get diagnosed as a patient who has sleep apnea. The things to move away from. And the things to move towards.

The things that you get to move away from when treatment is successful is the set of negatives which are much more likely to happen if you don’t get treatment. In addition to the fatigue and the risk to yourself and others when driving, there’s the big five medical consequences: high blood pressure, kidney failure, diabetes or its cousin, metabolic syndrome, cardiac rhythm changes, and sudden death.

The things you get to move towards when treatment is successful are real, and many patients benefit from: restful sleep, lower blood pressure, finding it easier to reduce weight if that’s needed, if male and over 40, a lower rate of decline-with-age in testosterone production … and in general, the ability to do more in a day. You may even find yourself smiling at people.

Treatment does take some getting used to. And there is the business of adjusting the machine to match you, and finding the right mask to fit your face, and in general adapting the treatment to work successfully with you. And a word of realism – that doesn’t always happen overnight. Getting the best combination of treatment and new habits can easily take three months.

I will add that this forum is funded by two people in the United States who sell machines and masks, and most of its members live there – and they may not always know the precise workings of the NHS. Thankfully, I – having worked in the UK as a medical journalist – do. So, as a general piece of advice for NHS patients – before you ask anything, use search.

If you look at the top left-hand side of the computer page, you will find the search box.

If you type in my name and the topic you want information about – for example, the DVLA – then you will probably find a reply from me which tells you most, if not all, of what you need.

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