Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blood pressure and sleep apnea

A few weeks ago I posted a message that I received from a friend on Facebook. He wrote about his problems with the UCPP operation and his use of the cpap. I recently received another very informative message from him about his blood pressure and why his heart has suffered from long term sleep apnea. I may have to consider using the cpap again.

“I am going to give you some news that may help motivate you, it did me. I was having what I thought was heart problems and kept thinking that it was gall bladder. Through a series of test they found my gall bladder was doing fine. I was getting to the point of worrying about wife, kids and me not making it long term for them. I went in for a reaction to prilosec that caused a rash and my blood pressure that day was 190/130. I have never been over 140/90 my entire life, that I knew of. They did labs and other to find out why I am still so tired while taking testosterin injects and taking provigil for sleeping apnea and being able to stay awake during the day. The found what my problem was after two years of body makes too much blood and the heart was just racing during those times trying to pump to much blood for the body. The cause------a 10 year or more denial of sleep apnea and my body was making to much blood to account for all of the times that I stop breathing. I am still battling prolong use of CPAP but know that my health/life depends upon the success of it. Stay strong and keep up the faith for God knows all and even though we do not understand why there is a reason. Your gift could be when you reach out like this to help others. We were never promised a rose garden, but your family and friends can help you. Good luck with beating the CPAP machine.....Andrew"

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

aerophagia and sleep apnea

It sounds inevitable that cpap users would swallow air, especially those with full face masks. But one of the problems of swallowing too much air is a condition called Aerophagia.

Aerophagia occurs when a person swallows too much air causing bloating, belching, stomach pain and gas.

What causes this condition?
  • Chewing gum
  • Drinking soda drinks
  • Smoking
  • Eating too fast
  • Hysteria
  • And for some wearing a cpap mask
Potential reasons for the cpap causing Aerophagia is the air pressure is too great on the machine, if the air doesn’t go to the lungs it goes into the stomach. Of course that can be fixed by having the setting changed on your machine.

Another possible problem is air leaks. Make sure that your mask fits snuggly enough so no air escapes. (I know that isn’t easy)

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

The pressure setting on a cpap machine

Each sleep apnea patient has their cpap setting determined usually at the sleep clinic. Its there they adjust the air pressure coming out of the cpap machine through the hose and into your mouth or nose (depending on which type of mask you have). The pressure ranges from 4 cm h20 to 20 cm h20. I know that doesn’t tell very much. But 4 cm h20 is on the low end of the scale whereas 20 cm h20 is the most powerful. This is all measured by the cpap manometer.

On cpap machines, like other sleep apnea breathing machines, the air pressure is ramped up. Which means that when you first put the mask on the pressure is slight and over a period of time it gradually becomes full strength. This makes the breathing adjustment a little easier.

Can you adjust the volume of air pressure at home? I was told no because the pressure has to be set by a technician who is familiar with the machine. Usually your doctor will send someone to your house and show you how to run the machine and they will set the pressure at that time. Of course, I have heard of other people finding ways to set the machine themselves but I don’t think that it’s a good idea.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Krebs cycle and sleep apnea

There is a lot written about sleep apnea’s overweight patients and how the majority of sleep apnea patients are overweight and that’s probably true. But sleep apnea might also be the cause of weight gain.

Recently I came across something called the Krebs cycle, the technical name is tricarboxylic acid cycle, but we will call it the Krebs cycle. It is a chemical reaction in cells that use oxygen in the respiratory process. The Krebs cycle produces a rich energy compound called Adenosine triphosphate or ATP which in turn gives cell the energy from the breakdown of glucose and the oxidation of fats.

So the Krebs cycle is very important to the well being of man. Unfortunately sleep apnea can disrupt this cycle and the metabolic rate. Lack of sleep interrupts the Krebs cycle causing the body to sense a disruption in the storage of energy in the cells. This in turn slows the body’s metabolism and the fat remains where it is at.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

sleep apnea and acid reflux

Many researchers believe that there is a connection between sleep apnea and acid reflux. I don’t doubt there is because of so many people who have both conditions. Check any sleep apnea forum and you will find many posts on acid reflux. I’ve had both for years and it makes it miserable trying to sleep.

What happens to increase the acid reflux in sleep apnea patients? Sleep apnea sufferers breathe harder than most people when they sleep. This hard breathing increases the air pressure in the throat which in turn brings up the acid in the esophagus.

The problems that occur, if this continues, can be serious. Besides damaging the lining of the esophagus, it can also lead to esophageal cancer among other things.

It is bad enough to have to wake up with the taste of vomit in your throat but add the fact that serious consequences can occur makes this quite a problem. I take medications each evening before I go to bed to stop the acid reflux but sometimes even that isn’t enough to stop this from occurring.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

one UPPP experience

I've never had any luck with the cpap. I don't know if I didn't give it a long enough time to work or whatever. Recently I have considered the Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery.

On Facebook I received this reply from Andrew about his experiences with the surgery and the CPAP. Now I not so sure about the surgery.

"there is something to be said for the CPAP. I was in my late 20's when I tried it and failed. I chose the surgery and had about three weeks of torture with my throat. When that healed I went from a loud snore to a wheeze and that irritated my wife even more....needless to say the surgery did not work. What I was not told was your tissue in your throat that they remove will scar up and build back scare tissue restricting your air way just like pre surgery. 13 years later I am worse with scare tissue and having to force myself to use the CPAP with varying results. I do not have a good answer but would say avoid the surgery, the mouthpieces that dentist make do not treat the apnea problem only help silence part of the snoring. The best thing I have found is CPAP and many people swear by it...but I am still getting attached to it. Andrew"

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sleep Apnea and Gout

I have noticed in the past 6 months that my fingers and toes have been swollen and sore especially when I wake up in the morning. At first I thought that it my sodium level was too high and that was causing the swelling, but now I am beginning to wonder. It seems that there is a connection between sleep apnea and gout. Sleep apnea patients receive less oxygen while sleeping than most people. Not only is the brain deprived of oxygen so are other parts of the body. In the bloodstream lack of oxygen causes the buildup of uric acid, which forms monosodium urate, which is a type of salt crystal. These salt crystals form around joints which produces swelling and painful inflammation.
This also explains why most gout attacks happen at night.

There is one thing that makes me skeptical about all this, is that I have had sleep apnea for many years and just now I am getting the gout. I am definitely going to get at least one Doctor’s opinion on this.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What to expect on the first overnight sleep study

Of all the health related tests that you can experience the overnight sleep study (polysomnogram) could be one of the strangest that you will ever experience. Unlike other tests you will need to be completely asleep in order for the test to produce the proper results. That is difficult in itself considering the reason that you are having the test is that you have a hard time going to sleep.

In an earlier post I wrote about one of my experiences with sleep studies. Today I will generally go over what to expect on the first overnight sleep study.

Before you show up to the hospital or where ever the test is taking place instructions will be given to you. On the day of the study you are instructed not to take any naps. That makes sense because you need to be very, very tired at the onset of the sleep study and definitely no caffeine. No caffeine can be difficult if you are hooked on coffee or soft drinks.

The test usually starts around nine o’clock in the evening. You probably won’t be the only person taking the test so it may take a little time before the technicians get you ready.

The room that you are put in is supposed to look less like a hospital room and more like a bedroom. But most bedrooms don’t have a camera pointing at you in bed. Of course some people do have a camera in their bedroom but that is another post on another blog.

After you have gotten into your sleep wear, the technician will apply all the wires and metal discs that are needed to score your test. And there are quite a lot of wires and metal discs. From you head to your chest to your legs and feet you will have the metal discs placed all over you. They will be held on by glue like substance that you will find is very hard to get off your skin and especially your hair. The wires are attached to the metal discs which transfers information to the technicians’ monitors.

After you are hooked up the technician will go into the observation room and run through a series of tests to make sure that everything is hooked up correctly. The tech will communicate through a speaker that is in your room.

When everything has been calibrated, it is time to go to sleep! This is the difficult part because of all the things that are attached to your body. And the thought that someone in another room is watching you can be a little unnerving. But you must try; if you don’t the whole evening will be a waste of time.

If this is your first study you probably won’t be interrupted all night. Of course if you need to use the bathroom you have a buzzer to ring the technician who comes into your room and helps you and your set of wires to the bathroom.

If it is a split study half way through the night you would be fitted for a cpap calibration.

At the end of the test you will hear the voice of the sleep study technician telling you to wake up. The tech comes into the room and unhooks you of all you wires and metal discs. Most places have showers so you can attempt to wash the glue out of your hair. Usually it takes a few showers to get that stuff out.

The doctor will get back to you on how you scored on the sleep study. At that point he can tell you with certainty whether you have sleep apnea or not.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

headaches and sleep apnea

Many sleep apnea patients have experienced severe headaches. Of course headaches are common among most people but there seems to be a correlation between lack of sleep and headaches, especially migraines.

Migraines are usually connected with the REM stage of sleep, which is the deepest sleep of the night and can occur 4 or 5 times. There are things that happen chemically in the brain during this stage that gives us the energy and alertness that we need to function through out the day. Since sleep apnea patients don't go into REM their brains are deprived of these chemical changes causing migraines.

Another cause of headaches is the lack of oxygen that sleep apnea patients experience on a nightly basis. Cluster headaches occur on one side of the head and usually during the last 2 hours of the night. There is also nasal problems and eye tearing with cluster headaches.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pillar procedure for sleep apnea

I read about this new procedure for sleep apnea, it is called the pillar procedure. Three tiny polyester implants are inserted into your soft palate. This in turn will stiffen the soft palate and add support to it. Since the soft palate is one of the areas that causes blockage during sleeping this can be effective in eliminating that blockage.

The procedure is done in the doctor’s office, no hospital stay. Unfortunately this procedure has only been effective for mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea. When I went to see my ENT he told me immediately that I wasn’t a candidate for the procedure. Which is unfortunate, considering it sounded so promising.

But then again I don’t know if my insurance company would have paid for it anyway.

Here is a video on the procedure

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sleep apnea and gasping for air

I have read on sleep apnea forums that many people with sleep apnea also gasp for air during the day. Not a lot of time but a few times a day. I find myself doing this also. It sounds like a burst of air is coming out of my mouth as if I was trying to hold my breath. Some people suggest that it has something to do with acid reflux but I usually only get acid reflux when I am in bed. It is also suggested that food goes down the windpipe instead of the esophagus.

It might also be laryngospasm, which is a spasm in your vocal cords. But that usually lasts for 30 to 60 seconds; my attacks only last a few seconds so I don’t think that is it.

It could also be related to an anxiety attack which makes sense. I know that when I have had anxiety attacks I struggled at times to catch my breath.

As always it is best to consult a doctor if you have sleep apnea or any other breathing disorder.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime drowsiness EDS and falling asleep without warning. Cataplexy is also a symptom which causes the loss of muscle tone and possibly brief periods of paralysis. This can be a serious illness if the narcolepsy sufferer falls asleep while driving or other activities that requires full attention. The actual cause of narcolepsy is unknown but it is considered to be a neurological and sleep disorder problem.

Although there is no cure for narcolepsy a drug called modafinil has been approved by the FDA. Antidepressants are also prescribed along with behavioral modifications. Regular sleep habits and scheduled naps are suggested for narcolepsy patients. Medication and behavioral changes help patients with the most severe symptoms such as EDS and cataplexy but they don’t cure the narcolepsy.

Some patients over sixty see a decrease in the narcolepsy as they get older.

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