Monday, June 29, 2009

Apap and sleep apnea

As I have mentioned before I have tried both the cpap and the bipap with very little success. Recently I was looking at a sleep forum and there was a mention of an APAP machine.

An APAP, Automatic Positive Airway Pressure, titrates the pressure that is given to the sleep apnea patient on a breath to breath basis, this is a big improvement over the cpap that blows air continuously regardless of whether you need it or not.

The bipap provides 2 levels of pressure in the hose, one coming in and the other coming out. When I tried the bipap there didn’t seem to be much difference between it and the cpap.

So the apap makes adjustments on the fly. This would be great because you don’t feel the same level of being tired every night. If you were sick or worked longer hours or you were stressed out, you might be more tired than usual. With a cpap machine the air is going to blow in the hose the same as it does every night (unless you adjust it every night). But with an apap, the machine can tell by your breathing how to set the air pressure.

This sounds like a major improvement.

I don’t know for sure but I can imagine that it is more expensive than the cpap and as far as insurance goes, you always have to check with them.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Snoring symptoms and treatments

Not everyone that snores has sleep apnea. It can be a major problem not only for the person that snores but also for their partner.

But there are remedies for snoring especially for those who don’t have sleep apnea.

Snoring and being overweight seem to go hand in hand. The first remedy to curtailing snoring is a life change, as in losing weight. I know you want to skip this one (me too!) but it would help with your snoring and help your over all health as well.

Another snoring remedy is to sleep on your side. If you sleep on your back your airway may become blocked. Sleeping on your side helps to open the airway.

Drinking right before you go to bed can also cause snoring. Drinking relaxes your muscles, including the muscles in the back of your throat which can block your throat’s airway. So avoiding the booze before sleeping is another snoring solution.

If your nasal passages are blocked this can cause you to snore. You know how difficult it is to sleep when you have a cold.

Age like so many things can also bring on snoring especially in men. As we get older the throat becomes narrower and the muscles weaken in the back of the mouth.

If you think that your snoring is becoming a major problem then you need to check with a doctor. If you have sleep apnea there are other treatments to consider.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Arrhythmia and Sleep Apnea

There has been a sleep study on Arrhythmias and sleep apnea done by Dr. Reena Mehra at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland.

Arrhythmia is where there is an irregular beating of the heart. They are common and can lead to severe health issues like heart disease.

It seems that those people in the test who had more episodes of shallow or disrupted sleep where more likely to have arrhythmia. I have heard for years that sleep apnea can lead to heart disease and this is just more proof.

The study also looked at the effects of central sleep apnea. The study seemed to indicate that central sleep apnea, which isn’t due to an obstructive airway, leads to more to atrial fibrillations, which may also lead to heart failure.

The test was done with 2911 participants.

I just read about this and once again this proves that sleep apnea isn’t anything to fool around with.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cpap machines and humidifiers

One of the major problems with early models of cpap machines was the dry air that flowed through the hose to the mask. This would dry up the nasal passage, make you sneeze and was a possible cause of infection. If you had a full face mask like I did then it not only dried out the nose but also made your throat dry and irritated when you woke up. The way that the cpap companies solved this problem was to add a humidifier.

The last cpap that I had used what was called a passover humidifier. A container of water was connected to the cpap machine’s hose as the air crossed over the container moisture would be picked up and passed through the main hose. I was instructed to use distilled water in the container because tap water would wear out the machine faster. Since the first cpap that I had used didn’t have the humidifier, I could definitely tell a big difference in the air passing through the hose.

There is also something called heated humidity. Heat produces the moisture as opposed to a container of water that passes moisture with a passover humidifier. This type of humidifier is now considered superior to the passover type.

Something that you may want to remember is that some insurance companies will not pay for heated humidifiers. Like any other procedure or medical device coverage varies from one company to the next. Your doctor’s office could probably tell you which insurance companies cover it and which don’t.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A terrific website about Sleep Apnea

Last week I received a comment from Steve Gardner, executive director of the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Foundation. I googled the website and I was really impressed!

If you are a football fan you know who Reggie White was. If you don’t he was one of the greatest defensive linemen in the history of the game. He played for the Packers, the Eagles and the Panthers. He was instrumental in leading the Packers to their super bowl victory in 1997.

But Reggie White was much more than a football star; he was an ordained minister and much beloved family man and community leader.

He passed away in 2004 from heart complications with sleep apnea possibly having a role in his death.

Mr. White’s wife Sara in conjunction with the Sleep Wellness Institute founded the Reggie White Sleep Disorder Foundation. It is a non-profit organization.

Please check out the web site at

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sleep Apnea and a deviated Septum

A deviated septum can be a factor in developing sleep apnea. The septum is the area between the nostrils that separate the nasal passages. Any blockage can cause disruption of your breathing.

What causes a deviated septum?
You could be born with a deviated septum or you could have one as a result of an injury to the nose. Old age can also be a factor causing the septum to be crooked.

What is done to treat a deviated septum?
The surgery is usually done as an outpatient basis. The entire procedure takes between 60 and 90 minutes. Working through the nose, the surgeon bends the cartilage to eliminate the blockage.

After the surgery there may be packing inside the nose, it will stay there for up to 3 days allowing the nose to heal.

Unfortunately just having the surgery doesn’t correct sleep apnea for those who have severe OSA.

One ENT that I saw suggested that I have the surgery. He told me that although it wouldn’t cure my sleep apnea it would certainly help. I declined and I’m glad I did. Because I went to another ENT and he said that I didn’t need the surgery at all. So it is always good to have a second opinion.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sleep apnea and truck drivers

I have read quite a bit on sleep apnea and truck drivers. There have been many tragic accidents involving drivers who have fallen asleep causing fatal wrecks. It seems that some trucking agencies are being proactive and testing their drivers for sleep apnea and paying for their cpaps if needed. I think this is a great idea.

But why stop at truck drivers? With Americans gaining more and more weight every year, sleep apnea is becoming more prevalent. Sleep studies, cpaps, dental devices and all things related to sleep apnea have become big business. Testing should available to people who fall in the high risk category of sleep apnea. Although being overweight is a major cause of sleep apnea it isn’t the only cause. Remember you can be thin and have sleep apnea. Other factors such as an enlarged tongue or the structure of your face can cause obstructive sleep apnea. And of course there is central sleep apnea, although rare, which has nothing to do with body size.

Hopefully the serious problems of sleep apnea such as heart disease and diabetes, along with falling asleep at the wheel will be given more attention in the future.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

What the sleep apnea is doing to me now

I turned fifty-one in January and I felt like I was a lot older than that. Not only do I have the problems with sleep apnea, I also have Meniere’s disease. I also blog about my Meniere’s disease; which I started at the same time as the sleep apnea blog. Right now my meniere’s is getting better; at least it seems that it is getting better. I haven’t had any attacks lately, so that’s good. And I am finding myself under the same stress as millions of Americans in that my job may be ending soon. So even without sleep apnea I probably wouldn’t get much rest.

I think that I am at a turning point where I have to do something about not getting enough rest. I have been able to get by without a lot of sleep for many years. It’s been difficult with the illnesses and that fact that I am a father of a seven year old son. But now I am starting to worry about my heart and whether it can last at least for another 15 years so I can see my son graduate from college. My own father died when I was 19, he also had sleep apnea and heart problems. At the time no one ever spoke about sleep apnea, I know he had it by the way he snored at night. It took its toll on him and he died at 61.

As I have written in past posts I have tried the cpap mask and the bipap mask and gone on what seems like a million sleep studies. I have tried to lose weigh but I gain it back. But I know that I just can’t forget that not being able to sleep isn’t good for me.

So, what am I going to do? First I am going to set up an appointment with a dentist who specializes in dental devices for sleep apnea. If he gives the okay that I am a candidate for that I will give it a try.

If not, I will have to try the cpap again and just force myself to use it. The only other option is surgery and I haven’t heard anything good about that.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

MAD and sleep apnea

There is a new device that is supposed to help sleep apnea patients. It is called MAD (mandibular advancement device). The device fits in the mouth and pushes the jaw forward preventing the airway from being blocked. Researchers in Korea have found that this device’s success rate was 74% in their study. The interesting part was that it worked better with those patients that had severe sleep apnea.
That’s great but I wonder why we haven’t heard more about this. If it is a successful alternative to using CPAP this should be a big story.

I did a search on this device and it has been around awhile. It’s similar to other dental devices but I guess the study in Korea seems to have given more credence.

If anyone uses this device or knows anything about let me know in the comment section.