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Apnea Monitors


What is an apnea monitor?

An apnea monitor is a device that measures how well you breathe. Healthcare providers read the information collected by the device to plan treatment. Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing one or more times while you sleep. You may stop breathing for 5 to 20 seconds, and wake up several times to catch your breath.

Why is an apnea monitor used?

An apnea monitor measures air flow to your lungs and the amount of oxygen in your blood. The monitor will show how many times you had apnea, and how long you stopped breathing each time. Your breathing rate and heart's electrical activity are also measured. The apnea monitor may be needed for any of the following reasons:

  • You may develop sleep apnea if you have a lung infection, such as pneumonia. Sleep apnea may be caused by tissues blocking your throat, and brain problems that change your breathing.
  • Your baby may choke, gag, and stop breathing for more than 20 seconds. His lungs may not be fully developed if he was born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Lung infections or an abnormal airway can cause breathing problems. He is at risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) from a lack of breathing. Healthcare providers may suggest that an apnea monitor be used until your baby is about 11 months old.

What should I do if an alarm is activated?

Stay calm and try to wake the person. Do not shake your baby to wake him. You can cause serious injury.

  • Call 911 if you see any of the following signs of an emergency:
    • Red or blue face
    • Eyes stare straight ahead
    • Stiff posture
    • No chest movement

What may trigger the alarm?

  • Low blood oxygen levels
  • Shallow breathing
  • Very slow or very fast heartbeat
  • No breathing for 5 seconds or longer
  • Little or no power left in the battery
  • No electricity coming from the power outlet
  • Wires attached to the person loosen or fall off

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions about how to use the monitor.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate help?

Seek help immediately or call 911 if:

  • The person with the monitor cannot be woken up or does not respond when you talk to him.
  • The person with the monitor is not breathing.
  • The person with the monitor turns blue, or does not move.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.