Sunday, May 31, 2009

Caffeine and sleep apnea

Caffeine can be found naturally in many plants such as coffee beans and tea leafs. It seems to be the perfect thing to get us awake in the morning or keep us awake late at night. It’s a stimulant that blocks chemicals that makes us sleepy. It doesn’t really get rid of being tired it just hides it. And it works fast, within 15 minutes the effects take place.

Do we need caffeine? Is it vital to our survival? No. It certainly isn’t good for a child. They don’t need stimulants, do they? There are been reports of coffee being beneficial in helping curb some diseases but there still needs to be more testing.

You would think that Doctors wouldn’t recommend anyone with sleep apnea, especially the severe form, to drink coffee. They probably wouldn’t. Sleep apnea is caused by blockage in the throat not by caffeine, but the real problem with coffee or those high energy drinks that are loaded with caffeine is that they hide the fact that someone has sleep apnea. If someone always feels tired in the morning, like me, then some drink with caffeine in it helps me feel like I’m awake. But the sleep apnea still exists and the problems, the numerous problems, associated with it are still there.

Of course with any drink filled with caffeine the high only lasts so long than you need another drink. In other’s words you are hooked on it.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sleep Apnea and TAP

Transpalatal advancement pharyngoplasty (TAP) is the latest type of surgery that may be beneficial to sleep apnea patients. Although CPAP is the still the most widely used and most successful type of treatment for sleep apnea, it doesn’t help everyone. Like myself, there are many people who can’t stand the way the mask feels on their face or the constant noise coming from the machine.

This procedure is considered an alternative to UPPP. TAP basically opens up the space at the back of the roof of the mouth increasing the airway. (This doesn’t sound like an easy procedure and I bet that the recovery time is long). Here is a detailed description of the procedure.

A study was done at the St. Johns Hospital, 60 patients were tested and the success rate was 63 per cent. I know that it is over 50 per cent but that still doesn’t sound like good odds to me. I would probably be in the remaining 37 per cent.

I can imagine that this surgery would take a long time. It sounds similar to the UPPP, a surgery that not everyone has found successful.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sleep apnea’s effects on driving

It goes without saying that driving requires you to be fully awake and alert. Sure, you have driven tired before and you have never been in an accident. But do you really want to take a chance? All that it takes is a moment to close your eyes and fall asleep in order to wreck your car possibly killing yourself and others.

What are the danger signs of falling asleep at the wheel?

Rubbing your eyes constantly will blur your vision and make concentrating on the road harder.

You start thinking about something that happened a while ago maybe at home or at work. Since you are already tired, especially if you have sleep apnea, you could momentarily forget where you are at and lose control of the car.

You are nodding off, literally. If you can’t keep that head up then you better pull off to the side of the road.

You can’t stop yawning. That’s okay if you are on the couch watching TV; it’s not okay if you are on the interstate.

All these situations are magnified when you have sleep apnea. Even after being in bed all night you get out of bed in the morning and you are still tired but you have to go to work. You get behind the wheel and somehow you make it to work. You are taking a big chance every day.

You wouldn’t want someone else on the road that didn’t have complete control of their car. So get the rest that you need. If you have sleep apnea this is a great reason to get help for it.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Somnoplasty and sleep apnea

A procedure (or surgery) to alleviate sleep apnea is somnoplasty. Somnoplasty, developed by Somnus Medical Technologies, Inc. is relatively new it received its clearance for treatment by the FDA in 1998.

Basically this procedure attempts to minimize the effects of the vibrations of the soft palate and uvula during sleep. Radio frequency energy is directed at the soft palate and uvula causing clotting beneath the soft palate and uvula. Lesions are formed when this is done. Over the course of several months the lesions are reabsorbed making the soft palate stiff eliminating the snoring.

The procedure is done in an outpatient setting, much like the LAUP procedure. A local anesthesia is given and the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes. It is relatively painless and the recovery is quick.

The success of the procedure will usually be determined within 6 to 8 weeks. Another treatment may be necessary.

I was informed by my doctor that this procedure probably wouldn’t help me because my sleep apnea is due to an enlarged tongue. He also told me that many insurance companies don’t cover somnoplasty. But it still might be something to look into if your sleep apnea is caused by the soft palate or uvula.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS feed

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Diabetic retinopathy and sleep apnea

A recent study suggests that there may be a connection between diabetic retinopathy and sleep apnea. The study showed that out of 118 men with diabetes over half had diabetic retinopathy, while only a third didn’t.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease found in patients who have diabetes. It is severe enough to significantly damage vision or may cause complete blindness. It comes in four stages from mild, the first stage to the advanced stage proliferative. What happens is blood vessels swell in the retina that may lead to fluid leakage. The last stage can be treated with laser surgery. It has also been shown that if the sleep apnea can be cured then this eye problem wouldn’t be so bad.

It seems like everything is connected to sleep apnea. Chronic pain, heart disease, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and many more health related problems can somehow be connected to sleep apnea.

It makes me wish I could use a cpap machine.

feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The fluid hypothesis and sleep apnea

There has been some evidence that links sitting too long during the day with sleep apnea. During the day fluid builds up in the legs, when you go to bed the fluid redistributes up through the body. If some of that fluid gets to the neck that can cause blockage in the airway.

This can be especially troubling if you work in an office where you sit behind a computer all day or if you drive a truck over long distances. According to Doctor Douglas Bradley, who headed the study at the University of Toronto Center for Sleep Medicine, taking a walk everyday should help with this condition. In future research the use of elevating the head while sleeping, the use of diuretics and using compression stocking will also be tested.

Dr. Bradley called this idea “the fluid hypothesis.”

I read this information from the Canadian Institute of Health Research website.

Something that I found interesting in the article was that Dr. Bradley suggested that the majority of OSA patients are not obese. I suppose he means that although weigh is still a factor it might not be as significant a factor.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Monday, May 11, 2009

An outpatient surgery to alleviate sleep apnea, LAUP

If your case of sleep apnea isn’t severe you might want to ask your doctor about LAUP. Laser Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty vaporizes the uvula and parts of the soft tissue that obstructs the patient’s night time sleeping. The best part about this procedure is that you don’t have to stay over night and the doctor uses a local anesthesia. The whole procedure is done while you are sitting in an upright chair; I guess it is like being at the dentist.

Unfortunately you can’t it all done in one sitting, it takes about 5 visits to get it done. These visits are spaced out between 4 and 5 weeks presumably to let the discomfort in your throat to subside. After each procedure the patient will feel as if they have a sore throat which can be treated with medicine.

Since I have severe sleep apnea I’m not a candidate for this procedure. But if your OSA isn’t severe (according to your sleep study) you should definitely ask your doctor about it.

Last week I posted about throat exercises to help relieve Sleep apnea. Well I found this article from WebMD that there is some proof that throat and tongue exercises really work.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sleep apnea and Fibromyalgia

There seems to be a connection between Sleep Apnea and Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder with widespread muscle and tissue pain. Pain also occurs when the muscle or tissue is touched. Difficulty moving, swallowing and problems with breathing are also symptoms. Another symptom is sleeping problems.

Over 80% of Fibromyalgia patients also suffer from sleep apnea. During stages three and four of the sleep stages hormones are released to repair muscles. Sleep apnea patients don’t reach stages three and four so the body hormones aren’t released. This in turn aggravates those with the Fibromyalgia disorder. There is a detailed explanation at the following proHealth site.

Fibromyalgia patients may also have alpha EEG anomaly. During sleep unusual brain activity takes place when the patient should be in deep sleep. This in turn will leave the patient extremely tired the next day. It should be noted that alpha EEG anomaly sufferers don’t have a problem falling asleep. The problem is the brain acts like it is awake.

Fibromyalgia patients can also suffer from conditions such as Bruxism (grinding of teeth) and restless leg disorder.
To read further on Fibromyalgia go to

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Didgeridoo and sleep apnea

I read quite a bit about sleep apnea but this is entirely new to me. There have been reports that playing the didgeridoo will help with your sleep apnea.

What is a didgeridoo? A didgeridoo is a wind instrument that comes from the aborigines tribes in Northern Australia. It is a long wooden instrument that is made out of Eucalyptus trees.
So how does it benefit sleep apnea patients?

A study was done in 2005 in Switzerland where they found that playing the didgeridoo would help with day time sleepiness and also sleep apnea. They also concluded that training the upper airway might reduce its collapsibility during sleep.
Here is the link to the study.

And if you aren’t living in Northern Australia you can still buy a didgeridoo online.

You know it might be worth a try. After I try the throat exercises I might look into buying a didgeridoo.

Feel free to comment and please subscribe to my RSS Feed

Saturday, May 2, 2009

throat exercises for sleep apnea

It seems like I learn something new about sleep apnea and various treatments for it every day. I read somewhere about using throat exercises to help with sleep apnea. My first reaction was that its bull but I thought I would do a little research anyway.

The first site that I looked at was a dental site where they described various “mouth exercises” such as puckering your lips and smiling for an extended time. Another was sticking your tongue out (there were several involving the tongue). The last group of exercises had the sleep apnea patient singing. I haven’t tried any of them yet.

I plan on doing a little more research and then try a few of them for a short period of time and then do a follow up post.

Feel free to comment and subscribe to my RSS Feed