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Should CPAP users worry if they lose power to their machines?

CPAP users fall into this category.Without a steady source of power or a ready backup option (like a battery pack), your CPAP machinewill stop running when the power goes out.You’ll begetting bywithout treatment for your apnea until the gridcomes backonline.

Similarly, if you’re traveling and you don’t have a reliable source of compatible electric current for your machine, you won’t be able to complywith your therapy. (For example, if you’re in a country with different outlets, or if you’re camping or residing in a temporary shelter.)

No power to your CPAP machinemeans you’ll be living with untreated apnea and snoring until electricity becomes available again.Anyone who’s lived with obstructive sleep apnea knows what that means.

Missing yourOSA therapy: risks and dangers

If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), going even a single night without your CPAP therapy can be a major source of stress. Once you become accustomed to the sleep mask, youmay struggle to fallasleep or stay asleep without the continuous airway pressure.

You may also experience insomnia brought on byworries and fears: now that you’ve become educated aboutthe risks of not treating your obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you simply can’t sleep without that CPAP. Every secondthat goes by without oxygen, every minute or hour without REM sleep, is anothercheck mark in your daily tally of health risks.

You’re right to beworried.The dangersof untreated OSA are no fun to live with, never mind think about.Not treating yourapnea can increase your riskof diseases and conditions like:

UntreatedOSA is also dangerous because the regular cessations of breathing you experience during apnea events leads to sleep deprivation and hypoxia (low blood oxygen).

Hypoxiaprevents your body from healing and stops your brain from functioning properly. In the short-term, itcan causeimpaired vigilance, difficulty performingdaily tasks, andpoor decisions-making and reaction times.

Sleep deprivation like thisbecomes dangerous when operating heavy machinery like an automobile or workplace equipment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,someone with untreated OSA is three times more likely to have a workplace accident or sustain an injury while on the job. Undiagnosed OSA can lead to a 20 percent increase in the risk for sleep-related traffic accidents.

Some other frighteningstats:

  • Cancer patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea are four times more likely to die when compared to those without OSA or who treat their OSA proactively.

  • Surgical patients with untreated OSA are more likely to experiencerespiratory failure while under general anesthesia.

  • Untreated OSA makes you morelikely to suffer from chronic kidney disease.

  • Long-term, not treating your apnea can also lead to a much greater risk of mortality. According to theAmerican Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM),people with moderate to severe OSA are “four times more likely to die when [sleep apnea] is left untreated in the long term.”

These facts and figures, especially that last one,arescary. And scarythoughts arepreciselythe types that like torun through yourmind at 3:00 AM in the morning, when the lights have gone out and the winds are howling at the door.

When your CPAP machine goes offline, even for half anight, it’s no joke. Interrupting your therapy directly affects your health and safety, and in some cases, the safety of the people around you.

How you’ll feel if your CPAPfails

In addition tothe serioushealth risks and dangers from missing your CPAP therapy,there’s also how you feel without a good night’s sleep. Remember life before you started treating your apnea?Those daily side effects will come back.

After a night withoutyour therapy,you may experience:

waking_up_with_a_headache_may_be_a_sign_you_have_sleep_apnea_need_cpap

  • snoring
  • a sore throat
  • headaches
  • difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
  • daytime sleepiness
  • cognitive problems like grogginess, brain fog, and troublemaking decisions
  • exhaustion
  • hypersensitivity to pain
  • irritability

For many people, these day-to-day side effects are reason enough to dread losing power to the CPAP.

Worst-case scenario: can you die without power to your CPAP?

This is a common worry. Somepeople become concernedthat if their CPAPs lose power in the night, they may suffocate in their sleep.For the great majority ofpeople (users who are not severely disabled or taking heavy medication that prevents them awakening), the answer is no; you will not die if you lose power to your CPAP machine.

If you are like mostpeople, you will wake upwhentheCPAPmachine stops.But evenif you don’t, you’ll be fine. Your apnea mask is designed to let youbreathe room air if the continuous air stops. You don’t need to worry about breathing intheexhaledCO2; built-in portsin your maskrelease it for you.

It’s extraordinarily rare for a CPAP user to die from aninterrupted session of therapy. Your sleep deprivation side effects will return, though, and your therapy compliance statistics may be affected, which can cause its ownheadache.

Power outages area more serious issueforpeople with moderate to severe OSA who live in areas hit by bad storms, or in places where the grid simply takes longer to fix (like very rural areas or large cities). If you’re without electricityfor days, weeks, or even up to a month, that could mean long stretches of sleep deprivation, which can pose a much greater risk to your health.

What’s your CPAP backup plan?

If you don’t have a plan for continuing your apnea therapy during power outages, you may want tomakeone now, before the weather starts getting dramatic. The best way tosafeguard your CPAP therapy against sudden losses of electricity is to get a CPAP battery backup system in place.Many usersin regionsprone to blackouts or brownoutspurchase thesebackups to ensurecontinuity of their therapy.

CPAP battery packs are also great options for travelers and campers. Check your insurance records: ifyou’ve met your deductible for the year, you may even be able to get your insurance plan to cover the cost.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

Thorax

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