COVID-19 has required everyone to make adjustments to their daily lives. Some of those changes are relatively minor, whereas others may pose a serious inconvenience. In a number of cases, people with certain medical conditions may have to take actions that could damage their own health in order to protect the health of others.
That might be true of many firefighters and other emergency workers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Many departments have asked their workers to leave their CPAP machines at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. What is the logic behind that request, and what can emergency workers do to sleep well without a CPAP?
The primary concern surrounding CPAP machines is that they may aerosolize COVID-19, exposing nearby individuals to the virus. This is particularly problematic in a setting like a firehouse, where firefighters and EMTs have sleeping quarters where they can rest between calls. If someone has COVID-19, and they are either asymptomatic or have such mild symptoms that they are not aware of their condition, they could unwittingly endanger their coworkers.
The above facts may seem to present a bit of a catch-22. Fortunately, however, most OSA patients are eligible for a CPAP alternative that will not aerosolize the virus that causes COVID-19.
Oral appliance therapy uses a small, mouthguard-like device to gently reposition the jaw at night. It thereby helps to keep the airway open and prevents the pauses in breathing that are characteristic of OSA. Oral appliance therapy has been proven effective at treating most levels of OSA. Plus, emergency workers may find it easier to carry a small oral appliance to the station than to go to the hassle of packing up their CPAP machine.
Are you a first responder who is worried about going without your CPAP on your overnight shifts? Contact our clinic today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Drummond. He will examine you, learn more about your condition, and determine whether an oral appliance would work for you. He will also answer any and all questions you have about the treatment.
Dr. Drummond and our team love the firefighters, EMTs, and other first responders in our community. We are eager to help you get the rest you need to function at your best.