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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? Is it affecting your life?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Q: What is sleep apnea?


A: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is breathing that starts and stops during sleep because of repeated airway closures. During sleep, throat muscles may relax too much. If throat muscles lose tone, parts of the airway, including the uvula and tongue, may flop backwards, blocking air to the lungs.

Q: Is snoring OSA?


A: Not all people who snore have blocked airways or apnea (periods without breathing, lasting 10 seconds to 2 minutes).

With OSA, sleep is commonly interrupted by snoring, apnea, gasping or startled awakenings. The person often wakes only enough to regain airway muscle tone but doesn’t realize they had stopped breathing.

Q: Is OSA potentially life-threatening?


A: People with OSA lack quality sleep, which may affect their ability to concentrate, work, socialize, exercise, or safely drive vehicles.

The heart may attempt to compensate for low oxygen levels during periods of apnea by beating quickly. This stresses the heart and may lead to cardiac damage. OSA has been linked to heart attack, stroke, hypertension, and emotional problems.

Q: How can I know if I have sleep apnea?


A: Talk with your physician if you think sleep apnea may be affecting your life.

Common features include:

  • Breathing that starts or stops during sleep

  • Snoring or gasping

  • Interrupted sleep

  • Daytime sleepiness

  • Poor concentration

  • Irritability or feeling depressed

Q: What causes OSA?



  • Weight gain; fatty deposits may narrow the airway or cause loss of tone to throat muscles

  • Aging may cause loss of tone in throat muscles

  • Smoking may cause inflammation and narrowing of the airway

  • Use of alcohol or sedatives may cause airway muscles to relax

  • Genetic inheritance may also be a factor, but this remains unproven

  • Large tonsils or adenoids may cause OSA in children

How is sleep apnea treated and how do I get started?

Treatment & CPAP Therapy

Q: What are the treatment options?



  • Lose weight

  • Quit smoking

  • Sleep on side

  • Avoid alcohol and sedatives at night

  • See a health practitioner to treat causes of narrowed airways, including nasal congestion, large tonsils, or adenoids

  • CPAP Therapy: Ask your health practitioner about using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device that provides air pressure from a mask to gently push the soft, floppy parts of the throat open

Q: How do I try out or buy a CPAP machine?


A: A doctor's prescription is required for you to try out or to buy a CPAP.


When your physician prescribes CPAP or BiPAP to treat your sleep apnea, it is a good idea to trial the equipment before you purchase it. You'll want to be sure that the CPAP and mask are comfortable and that you are achieving excellent benefit.

If you use CPAP already and need to purchase a replacement machine please call us, as we are pleased to help you with the process for purchasing a replacement CPAP.

Q: How do I get a home test for sleep apnea?


A: Contact us today. We are pleased to help you with all arrangements for your test. A doctor's prescription is required.

A home sleep test is performed on a small portable monitor. The monitor has a chest band, airflow detectors and a soft clip that goes on one finger tip. The monitor will record your oxygen level, pulse rate, and also your breathing pattern and amount of airflow.

During a daytime appointment we'll show you how to apply the monitor, then you will take the monitor off until you put it back on at bedtime. 

Click the link below for a copy of our instructions online.


How do I maintain my CPAP machine and equipment?

Q: How do I clean my CPAP & equipment?


A: ​Please see our Client Area & Instructions page or click on the link below. You might like to bookmark, download or print a copy of the instructions for easy referral.

It is important to clean your equipment as directed to ensure proper functioning and longer use. Do NOT use alcohol, abrasives, bleach or antibacterial, glycerin or moisturizing soaps to clean equipment.

Contact us at any time with questions or concerns.

For how-to guides please see the  Instructions page.

Q: My CPAP machine or equipment is broken or not functioning properly.

A: Please contact us right away if there are any issues with your machine or equipment, or if air flow feels different than usual.

Will CPAP expenses be covered by my medical plan?

Medical Coverage

Q: Will my CPAP machine be covered by my medical plan?

A: If you have an extended health medical plan (e.g. Greenshield, Blue Cross Canada, Medavie, Great West Life, CanadaLife, Manulife, Sunlife, DesJardins, Cumis, Couighlin, GroupSource, PrimAsure and several others), your CPAP machine and equipment will most likely be covered - either partially or in full. You may call your extended health plan and provide them your policy numbers to inquire, or you may have access to your coverage online account.  

Very specific forms will be required from you and your Physician. Please contact us for assistance.

Q: I am a person who receives income assistance or I am a person with disabilities ( PWD) . Am I covered for CPAP expenses?

A: Assistance may be available through the BC Ministry of Social Development provided that eligibility requirements are met. 

Very specific criteria and supporting documents will be required from you and your Physician. Please contact us for assistance.

Q: I am a person with First Nations Health Benefits. Am I covered for CPAP expenses?

A: Very specific forms will be required from you and your Physician. Please contact us for assistance.

Income Tax Eligible Expenses

Am I able to claim CPAP expenses for Income Tax purposes?

You might be able to claim expenses for CPAP or Air Conditioning on your Income Tax. These are some tips we offer for discussing with your Physician and your tax professional...

Q: Can I claim CPAP or BiPAP expenses for Income Tax purposes?

A: Possibly, yes. Please talk to your income tax professional and refer to the Canada Revenue link below; it seems that portions you pay out-of-pocket for a CPAP device and related equipment may be eligible for review for personal Income Tax purposes.


Please keep a copy of your Doctor's prescription for CPAP/BiPAP with your Income Tax records and for each new tax year.  

Q: Are my air conditioner and air purifier eligible expenses for Income Tax purposes?

A: Please see your Physician to find out if these items are deemed medically necessary and are prescribed for you; if so, then some of your expenses for an air conditioner, air purifier and even air filters for home furnaces may be eligible expenses for your personal Income Tax return.

Please refer to the Canada Revenue link below.

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