Did you know that in 2014, Americans took a total of about 2 billion trips? Whether those trips were for business or pleasure, it’s arguably a lot of time spent on trains, planes, and automobiles. For most people, traveling means packing a few bags and getting used to hotel pillows. For people dealing with sleep apnea, though, there are some unique challenges associated with traveling.
Traveling With Sleep Apnea
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that approximately 18 million Americans — about 6.6% of the population — are affected by sleep apnea. People suffering from sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods while sleeping. This can happen up to 30 times every hour. While there are a few different ways patients can have their apnea treated, a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) device is one of the most common.
It can be arguably difficult for someone on a short trip to bring their typical CPAP device with them, as they may already be carrying a lot of stuff, or be worried about losing the device. Luckily, medical supply stores frequently offer smaller, travel-friendly CPAP machines. These machines often lack humidifiers, helping to free up space.
If travelers don’t like the idea of owning another machine just for traveling, there are a few other options. There are oral devices, which are custom-made to hold the jaw forward and keep an upper airway open. There is also something called “nasal valve therapy,” a device that is attached over the nostrils.
What to Keep in Mind if You Do Bring Your CPAP Supplies Along
Hate the idea of leaving your CPAP at home? Prepare for the flight by having your prescription for your medical supplies in case TSA wants proof that they are necessary. As medical equipment, your CPAP machine is not considered one of your carry-on items, which means you can bring it in addition to your overhead bag. If you have an overnight flight, make sure to clear this with the airline beforehand, and double check that you’re seated near a power source.
Thanks to medical supply stores, it’s possible for those suffering from sleep apnea to get the help they need. And luckily, it’s not all too difficult to travel these days — even if you are a CPAP user.