Anyone have sleep apnea?

tree_oracleDecember 16, 2005

I finally found out a few days ago why I have felt like crap for the last twenty years of my life. I have sleep apnea. I recently had a sleep study and I stop breathing around 25 times per hour. Assuming each apnea lasts around 15 seconds, I'm not breathing for close to an hour each night! I've had sleep problems for a very long time. My sleep was often disturbed and I never wake up feeling refreshed. I've had hypertension for the last twenty years that has been difficult to control. It's gotten so bad this year that it led to visits with various doctors who finally pointed me in the direction of a sleep clinic. I'm excited about finally determining the cause of my problems. I'm also excited about the prospects of not feeling ill and fatigued all of the time. However, I have some reservations about the "cure" for sleep apnea namely the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to tolerate the mask everynight. Seems like it would keep me awake. Is anyone here using a CPAP machine? Can you give me some feedback on what kind of CPAP machine and mask that you use, and how well you are doing on the treatment. Also, is anyone using the oral version of a CPAP machine (called an OPAP)? Thanks.

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I have had friends who treported that they could SLEEP for the first time in years with the CPAP machines.

Give it a try, and your hypetrtension and exhausiton will go away.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 11:29AM
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In a cost/benefit analysis, a CPAP machine is certainly preferable to daytime sleepiness (which significantly increases your likelihood of injury, including car accidents) and the increase risk of cardiovascular disease. There are several things that can be done to help you be more comfortable with your CPAP machine. Here is an excerpt from a paper I wrote on this subject.

Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
The use of positive pressure to prevent the collapse of the upper airway has become the treatment of choice for clinically significant obstructive sleep apnea. The goal of nasal CPAP, a type of pneumatic splint, is to provide sufficient pressure in the collapsible segment of the upper airway to counteract the inspiratory suction pressure (van Houwelingen et al, 1999). The positive pressure prevents upper airway narrowing and closure at all levels via a nose mask held on by a strap or head set. The optimal CPAP pressures are determined by a overnight polysomnogram. At-home CPAP polysomnogram titrations have been advocated but no large scale investigations have been done to determine the efficacy of such an intervention. CPAP has been found to be a highly and rapidly effective treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, resulting in significant improvement in their condition (Henderson and Strollo, 1999; Worsnop et al, 1998).

The most important issue limiting the effectiveness of nasal CPAP is patient compliance. CPAP is initially accepted by approximately two-thirds of obstructive sleep apnea patients, and of these seventy-two percent used CPAP in the long term for an average of six hours per day (Worsnop et al, 1998). A recent study reported that only forty-six percent of obstructive sleep apnea patients used CPAP for greater than four hours of sleep for seventy percent or more of nights. Another study found that the long-term pattern of compliance was determined within the first week of usage. (Henderson and Strollo, 1999). Simple interventions such as frequent phone follow-ups and brief written instructions regarding CPAP use could effectively improve compliance (Piper and Stewart, 1999).

From forty to fifty percent of patience who commence nasal CPAP therapy complain of side effects (Piper and Stewart, 1999). Poor mask fit and mouth leaks are the main side effects of nasal CPAP and are significant deterrents to compliance. Poor mask fit can cause irritation of the skin over the bridge of the nose, rhinorrhea, and nasal stuffiness, while leaks around the eyes can disrupt sleep. Several attempts have been made to address these problems. Mouth leaks can be eliminated with a chin strap or oronasal mask. Excessive dryness can be mitigated by humidification of the air. Several different nasal masks or interfaces are now available. Finally, ramp features, autotitrating CPAP, and bilevel pressure devices can assist in helping patients adjust to the continuous pressure (Henderson and Strollo,...

    Bookmark   December 19, 2005 at 1:34PM
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Hi Tree,
I've got sleep apnea, and have been using the CPAP machine for about a year now. It's wonderful not to fall asleep in front of people during the day any more. I have the triangular shaped mask that just covers the nose and mouth, and I use the water box to hydrate the air as it comes into the mask.
Do you know what setting you are yet? I'm an 8, which they said is fairly low, so maybe that made it easier to get used to.

I had a couple of nights at first that were hard going, getting used to the mask, but I just kept saying "I've GOT to make this work", and after a few nights, it did.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 1:09AM
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DH has sleep apnea and uses a CPAP machine but I don't know what kind or the settings or anything. All I know is that he doesn't fall asleep driving anymore- scary, scary, scary!!! Hubby really likes his machine- it gives him a good night's sleep. He was used to it after only a couple of nights. I think it is literally a life saver.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2005 at 9:52AM
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My sister has used the CPAP for a couple of years, and it has made a huge difference for her, and in a good way. It makes a soft humming noise. I've slept in the same room with her, and the noise does not bother me or her. She takes it when she travels too. She does not love using the machine; it's just one of those things we have to do.

I can certainly understand why you are not looking forward to this, but it's just at night, and it could really make you feel like a new person, able to accomplish more during the day too. Let us know how it goes.


    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 12:31PM
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My husband can be very stuburn and he was NOT going to use the C-pap. But he did and he takes everywhere he goes now. He used to fall asleep talking all the time and never felt rested. Now with the C-pap with 5-6 hours of sleep he feels much better. He would not be without it. I am getting a sleep study done after the new year too. Maybe we both will have one. LOL

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 2:43PM
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My father was just diagnosed and thinks the Cpap machine is a miracle. He got used to it quickly and can't believe the change in how he feels during the day.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2006 at 1:05PM
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Husband, 58, has it. I had him go in years ago because he would quit breathing, then gasp. They said it was nothing, just "hesitations", yeah, sure. Finally, they decide he has it. He doesn't have a mask, it's the tube you put in your nostrils, they said his oxygen saturation was too low, 70 or 75, so he uses the machine every night. Lynn

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 11:23PM
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According to my husband, I have a terrible snoring problem. And on very rare occasions, I wake up gasping for air, as though I'm trying to breathe my last breath. This happened to me again last week, twice on the same night. Is there a chance that I have sleep apnea? Should I be seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist? Or is a GP okay to discuss this with?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 12:04AM
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I would like to thank all of you that have responded so far. It's good to hear about the improvement that people are experiencing with the CPAP machine. I'm supposed to get my CPAP machine tomorrow so I'm hoping it works for me. I'll be using the Mirage Swift Nasal Pillows system that I used in the sleep study. I found it to be fairly comfortable to use. I'll report my results over the next few weeks.

Marie, your symptoms definitely sound like sleep apnea. I would contact your GP as soon as you can to set you up with an appointment at a sleep clinic.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 2:50PM
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tree oracle, thank you for responding. What happens at a sleep clinic? How long is the stay?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 12:10PM
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The stay is overnight. They hook you up to a lot of electrodes and put sensors near your nose to measure your breathing. It's hard to sleep with all of that gear on but you don't have to sleep the entire night for them to get enough data to make a diagnosis. All of the sensors that are hooked to you are measuring your body movements, brainwave activity, eyelid movement, breathing patterns, etc.

If your diagnosed with sleep apnea, then you go back for the same overnight study but this time in addition to all of the sensors you also wear one of the CPAP masks, or nasal pillow systems. The technician will determine the amount of air flow that is needed to prevent you from having the apneas.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 8:15PM
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Must you sleep on your back during the testing? I ask because I can never fall asleep in that position.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 10:15PM
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You can sleep on your side quite easily depending on which mask you wear. With the nasal pillows system I was using it was no problem. Unfortunately for me, I'm in the small percentage of population that prefers to sleep on their stomach. This position is not as easy to obtain without the mask leaking air.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 8:29AM
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