Sunday, October 31, 2010

CPAP mask allergies

If you have ever used or tried a CPAP mask to relieve your sleep apnea then you know of how challenging it can be. Whether it is the difficulty of wearing a mask in bed or the noise that it creates it takes time to becomed adjusted. Another challenge or possible concern is that the CPAP mask may cause your allergies to get worse.

If you have allergies problems or sinus problems than you may have problems with a CPAP mask. One of the biggest allergies problems is allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, which is inflammation of the nasal passages. According to Wikipedia allergic rhinitis is “an allergic inflammation of the nasal airways. It occurs when an allergen such as pollen or dust is inhaled by an individual with a sensitized immune system, and triggers antibody production. These antibodies mostly bind to mast cells, which contain histamine. When the mast cells are stimulated by pollen and dust, histamine (and other chemicals) are released. This causes itching, swelling, and mucus production”

Two possible solutions are using a humidifier with your CPAP, which most CPAP machines have now. This will keep the air moist going into your throat and of course cleaning the CPAP mask and machine on a regular basis.

There are nasal sprays and other medications to help with allergies check with your doctor to see what is right for you.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Depression medication and sleep apnea

I have mentioned more than a few times that taking any kind of sedative is usually not a good idea if you are a sleep apnea patient. The sedative relaxes you which is good but it also relaxes the muscles in the throat which makes the sleep apnea worse. But what if you suffer from depression or anxiety and take a medication; does that have any effect on your sleep apnea? Depression meds take a while to kick in and they don’t make you sleepy so it shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Ironically depression and anxiety can cause some sleep disorders, not sleep apnea, so taking anti-depressants would help in that regard if your problem is insomnia or other things that keep you awake at night. There are quite a few anti-depressants on the market such as Prozac, Zoloft, celexa and many others. While they all try to relieve your depression you may have to try a couple before you find the one that works for you. You would have to work closely with your doctor to find the right one.

Do they make you sleepy?

They are not supposed to but I have read that some find Zoloft makes them tired. But then again I have also read that Zoloft can cause insomnia which goes to show that medications produce different results in different people.

As for the connection between sleep apnea and anti-depressants you should talk to your doctor about any possible conflicts.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Losing weight and sleep apnea

One of the things that seem to go hand in hand with sleep apnea is being overweight. It is certainly understandable considering that the blockage in the back of your throat due to excess tissue is probably due to weight gain. Of course not all sleep apnea patients are overweight, as you probably know the shape of your face and an enlarged tongue can also cause sleep apnea. In my case I have all three problems, I am overweight, I have a big face and an enlarged tongue. I can’t do anything about the shape of my face or my enlarged tongue (of course surgery might help but I don’t want to go there). However losing weight is something that I can do about, but I don’t. Why? I have other health issues that limit how much exercise I can do but I don’t have any excuses for eating too much.

Exercise and weight loss which are so important is ignored by plenty of folks. Even with the dire consequences of not living a healthy lifestyle, eating right and exercise are put off and forgotten. The question is why? Lifetime habits of a sedentary life are difficult to break and it is extremely difficult when you aren’t getting the proper rest.

So what should you do? Start slowly and don’t worry if you don’t make progress right away. I little walking is always good just don’t overdo it. The same goes for dieting, or eating right. Don’t starve yourself and try to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables as much as you can into your diet plan. But the first step has to be to talk to your doctor before dieting and exercise.

Besides becoming healthier your sleep apnea will also benefit from weight loss.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Becoming pregnant and sleep apnea

In march I wrote a post of infertility and sleep apnea. I talked about all the possible difficulties that might occur if your partner has sleep apnea and you are trying to conceive. I was very happy to see from the following 3 comments that I have received that some couples have attributed their pregnancies to relieving their sleep apnea.

Here are the comments…

1st comment
Hi there! I tried for 9 years to have another child. I spent 25,000 too. After being diagnosed in May of this year, given a CPAP, etc....I became pregnant at 39 years of age, 6 weeks later. My husband is postitive that the CPAP is the reason why. In fact, my Dr. at The Ohio State University is thinking about doing a study based on this.

2nd comment...
My DH and I tried for 3.5 years to conceive, including three rounds of artificial insemination and three IVFs. I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and began using a CPAP. Six weeks later, I was pregnant. Our DS is nearly 1!

I don't know if there is a link between my infertility and my sleep apnea, but I believe there is. It stands to reason that if I wasn't getting anywhere near a good night's sleep my body, especially my hormones, would be adversely affected

3rd comment...
My parents were trying to conceive for 2yrs w/ no luck then my dad was diagnosed w/ sleep apnea.After he got his sleep machine for it my mom got pregnant right away. And produced my brotherl

After reading these comments it definitely seems that correcting sleep apnea will help with becoming pregnant.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poor concentration and sleep apnea

Whether you have sleep apnea or not, poor concentration can be a serious problem. Whether your lack of concentration happens at work or at home or god forbid, driving a car, you definitely need to improve it. It is well known that sleep apnea affects a person’s memory and alertness so it isn’t any wonder that it can lead to poor concentration.

How does sleep apnea cause poor concentration?

One of the main problems with sleep apnea besides making you awake many times through out the night is the lack of oxygen that you receive. That lack of oxygen damages brain tissues which in turn causes memory problems and concentration problems. Fortunately if you resolve your sleep apnea situation your memory and concentration problems with the cpap machine or other devices then your memory and concentration will improve. So there is definitely hope for those with sleep apnea.

Since we now know that children can suffer from sleep apnea it is no wonder that their education will suffer from a lack of sleep. Lapses in memory as well as not being able to concentrate can lead to bad grades and emotional issues. The remedies for children with sleep apnea are similar to those for adults, lose weight and use a cpap machine. As everyone has heard childhood obesity is becoming an ever growing problem in this country and with it comes the various ailments, not only sleep apnea but also diabetes and heart problems. So proper nutrition and regular exercise can certainly help everyone with sleep apnea, not only adults.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sleep Apnea and OCD

There has been a lot written about OCD Obsessive-compulsive disorder over the past few years. It affects many people, including quite a few celebrities. I received an email about an article about OCD and how it affects the famous and successful folks also. It also seems that OCD can have an effect on your sleep, making sleep disorders worse including sleep apnea.

What is OCD?

According to the article OCD is “can affect people at different levels of severity and by manifesting itself through different behaviors or rituals, but it can really interfere with a person's everyday activities, commitments and schedule, relationships, and ability to deal with anxiety and stress.”


Sleep disorders and OCD

Sleep disorders can be caused by a form of OCD called PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. An article in the NY Times Health site states that sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea can develop within a month after a traumatic experience. They also say that sleep apnea sufferers can be at risk of a panic disorder.


What is the treatment for OCD?

  • Medication 
  • Cognitive Behavior therapy 
  • In extreme cases surgery

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Maxillomandibular advancement and sleep apnea

If the CPAP doesn’t help with your sleep apnea and an oral device doesn’t help then surgery might be your only option. When most people think about sleep apnea and surgery they picture a long recover time and only a 50 percent chance of it doing any good. From what I have read from others that sounds about right. But what if you don’t have any options left, and then surgery might be your only hope.

The surgery that most people with sleep apnea dread is the UPPP Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty which removes the soft tissue. One of the main problems with this is surgery is that it doesn’t always correct the sleep apnea. According to Wikipedia the success rate is around 40 percent. To make matters worse there can be several complications due to the surgery such as:

  • Swelling in the throat 
  • Sore throat 
  • Continued sleep apnea 
  • Drainage into the nose


One surgery that does look promising is the Maxillomandibular advancement. As I have written in the past one doctor suggested that I consider this type of surgery because of the failure of the cpap to work for me and because of the fullness of my face.

Maxillomandibular Advancement MMA moves the top jaw and the bottom jaw to open up the airway in the throat. This surgery is also used for people with receding chins. The surgery takes 3 or 4 hours with a few night stay in the hospital. Recovery time at home is around a month. I have read that it is a lot more effective than all the other sleep apnea surgeries.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Causes and Cures of Sleep Apnea

Sleep and the lack of it is a major health concern today. Many sleep disorders are being studied to try to find relief from the perils of sleeping too little Among those sleep disorders sleep apnea is probably most well known of the group. The cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat.

Things that contribute to sleep apnea

  • Probably the most talked about cause of sleep apnea is weight gain. In today’s society gaining weight among adults and children is a serious health threat and not only for sleep apnea. Being overweight contributes to heart disease and diabetes not to mention many other illnesses. Losing weight in itself might not cure your sleep apnea it will definitely make it better by reducing the size of the tissue in the back of your throat. 
  • The shape of your face and jaw play a factor in whether you have sleep apnea or not. A narrow throat can block the throat’s airway. 
  • An enlarged tongue can also block the airway. 
  • Nasal problems can contribute to snoring and proper breathing at night. Not something that you would want to have if you already have sleep apnea.


Of course there is also central sleep apnea which deals with the brain rather than the blockage of the airway.


Possible treatments


  • The most popular treatment is the use of the cpap machine. Continuous air is pushed through a hose into your nose or mouth forcing your airway to remain open. Although this is a popular treatment not everyone can get used to wearing a cpap mask at night. 
  • There are various surgeries to reduce the amount of tissue in the back of the throat such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty surgery. 
  • maxillomandibular advancement is a surgery that moves the jaw forward that in turn opens the airway. 
  • For mild to moderate sleep apnea dental devices can be worn at night to reduce the snoring.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Catathrenia and sleep apnea

Unlike 20 years ago, sleep apnea is a well known disorder. Whether the number of people overweight has contributed to this or not, you hear quite a bit about sleep apnea and its symptoms. Usually it is the person who is sleeping with the sleep apnea patient who first recognizes that there is a problem. The loud snoring, grunting and gasping for air is a sure tell tale sign. If you have sleep apnea then the only way that you know that there is a problem is the restless night that you have. After you gasp for air and wake up you immediately fall back to a light sleep, this pattern goes on all night. But are these symptoms definitively sleep apnea. They might be something else like Catathrenia, also known as nocturnal groaning.

According to Wikipedia Catathrenia is a “rapid eye movement sleep parasomnia consisting of end-inspiratory apnea (breath holding) and expiratory groaning during sleep, is distinct from both somniloquy and obstructive sleep apnea. The sound is produced during exhalation as opposed to snoring which occurs during inhalation.”

What can you do to cure Catathrenia?

First of all Catathrenia is not life threatnening nor is it as serious as sleep apnea, where the problem is during the inhaling of air not the exhaling. Some have suggested that the cpap machine might help with this disorder but not everyone is of that belief.

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