Sunday, May 29, 2011

Do you have mild sleep apnea?

If you do a search of sleep disorders on the web then you will probably find that sleep apnea is at the top of the list. While insomnia has been talked about for some time, sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea is something that quite a few folks want to learn about. Thirty or forty years ago not many spoke about sleep apnea even though the term had been created by the Canadian Doctor William Osler.  Now it is being pretty much accepted that a great deal of the country has some form or degree of sleep apnea.
The reason for the increase in sleep apnea probably has a lot to do with the general health of the population. As a society we have become sedentary and overweight, which is cause of sleep apnea. Excess weight around the neck increases the amount of blockage in the throat. Granted, sleep apnea can be caused by other things such as the shape of your face or maybe enlarged tongues but being overweight is definitely a major cause.
If you or your doctor feels that you have sleep apnea it is important to go for a sleep study as soon as possible. Besides telling you whether you have sleep apnea or not they will also determine if your case of apnea is mild, moderate or severe. This is very important because it will be helpful to your doctor in deciding what type of treatment is for you.
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Life After CPAP

The following is a guest post...

Odds are if you are reading this you have dealt with, or are currently dealing with the reality of adapting to sleeping with a CPAP machine. Those of us who have been down this path know this is no easy task.
Everyone needs to sleep, and a CPAP machine offers those of us who suffer from sleep apnea a real chance at a restful night of sleep. In some cases it will be for the first time in our lives. That is, if we can overcome the hurdle that is learning to sleep with a CPAP machine.
Even if you’re not a picky sleeper, getting used to having something strapped to your face that blows air up your nose can be difficult. Then you may have to deal with humidifier issues, straps digging into your face, poorly fitting or poorly sized CPAP masks, movement restricted by breathing tubes, masks getting dislodged by pillows, and so on. For some, it may seem impossible to get used to, and you may feel like giving up. If that is the case I strongly suggest you keep trying. The payoff is well worth the journey there.  The experience of finally finding that restful night of sleep is so rewarding that it makes all the trouble worthwhile.
In my own case I found that this trouble was pretty easily avoided by realizing that not all CPAP equipment works for all sleep apnea sufferers. Everyone’s situation is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another.  I have allergies, so I often have a “stuffy” nose, making the nasal mask I was given a nightly fight against the feeling of not being able to breathe well.  Some nights were tolerable, while other nights I couldn’t even stand to wear it.  I was also given a chin strap to wear in order to keep my mouth closed, which, as you can imagine, is not a very comfortable item.  I would wake up breathing from my mouth so much I would have to really tighten that chin strap in order to keep my mouth from falling open, so much so that I would wake up with a dent in the skin on the crown of my head.  For the longest time I actually had no idea that they made full face masks or other types of equipment, because I was given very few options in the beginning by the company I was dealing with.  I had no idea there were even other types of CPAP machines, such automatic machines.  I didn’t know that nasal stuffiness from “allergies” is often a hallmark of a lack of humidification, or the important role that proper filtration can play in preventing symptoms like this.
This is why it is so important to find a reputable Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider to supply your equipment, whether you turn to a local business or purchase your equipment on the Web.  It is best to try to find a company that specializes in sleep therapy, because they are usually going to have a much wider selection of CPAP equipment than a generic DME company that sells things like walkers and wheelchairs.  Companies that specialize in sleep therapy are also much more likely to have a certified respiratory therapist on hand to help you with your mask selection and to answer any questions you may have about your equipment.  Once you realize you have options, you have a lot more freedom to customize your own CPAP experience.  For those of us like me who have no choice but to pay for the equipment out-of-pocket ourselves, using web-based online CPAP retailers can save you an incredible amount of your hard-earned money, and provide you with knowledgeable advice and a wide selection of products.  In many cases you can even be reimbursed by your insurance company.   You will find that there are a lot of internet sites that sell CPAP equipment out there on the Web.  Most are really good, but be careful about some of the equipment that is sold on auction sites.  You may be buying outdated or even used equipment.  My advice is to try to find a reputable internet CPAP retailer that not only has good prices, but is an authorized retailer of the equipment that they sell, and is also willing to answer your phone call with a real person.  Also, that person should be someone who is knowledgeable about CPAP equipment, and is willing to take the time to help you with your selection.   I found the staff at to be just that; they took the time to answer my questions, and they were very helpful and honest in giving me advice on a mask solution that was right for me.
I personally chose to use a hybrid mask that covers my mouth and has self adjusting nasal pillows. I can also quickly and easily order and replace filters and mask cushions that I never received on a timely basis from my brick and mortar store.  Because of this and the right choice of pillow to accommodate my mask, I now sleep like a baby every night and feel much more rested than I ever have.  Instead of trying to learn to live with the equipment that was simply handed over to me, I am finally in charge of the way I sleep.  Shouldn’t we all be?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CPAP Insomnia

Sleep apnea is just one of many sleeping disorders that affect millions of people every night. Other disorders broken into two categories Parasomnia and Dyssomnias might not lead to such serious sleep apnea side effects such as heart disease and diabetes but they can cause great psychological problems. One of those disorders that fall in the Dyssomnias group is insomnia, a sleep disorder that can be a problem anywhere from a few days to years. There are lots of reasons for insomnias such as medication, long term illnesses and stress but oddly enough it can also be caused by using a device that helps with sleep apnea, the CPAP.

I have written many times about how difficult it was for me to use the CPAP mask and machine. Wearing the mask at night was cumbersome for me and the feeling the air blowing down my throat was something I couldn’t get used to. I tried on two different occasions with two different types of machines, CPAP and BIPAP and neither worked. I hated that it didn’t work for me because millions of folks find relief with the CPAP mask every night, unfortunately I didn’t.

Could the CPAP mask be causing the insomnia?

This is an interesting question because it could be difficult to ascertain whether the insomnia is caused by other problems or just the CPAP mask. When you are dealing with insomnia it could be any number of things that are causing it, including the CPAP mask.

Give the mask a chance before discarding it after time you may find that you will get used to it. Always check with your Doctor about possible treatments for insomnia.

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Confusional arousals

When it comes to sleep the optimal result is waking the next morning ready to start the day and fully refreshed from a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately that isn’t the case with a good percentage of the population, especially those who have sleep apnea. What is really bizarre and thankfully rare is waking up in a confused state as if you don’t know where you are. Your memory is weak and you are unable to hold up your end of a conversation. You might be experiencing a Parasomnia called Confusional Arousals.

This is definitely different than waking up groggy which happens quite a bit with a lot of us. Confusional Arousals is one Parasomnia of the sleep disorder referred as Arousals. The other two are sleepwalking and sleep terrors. The fact that children have sleep arousals is common to all three. As for why it occurs it might be heredity or it might be caused by medication. In adults drinking too much alcohol may also bring it on or even being awoken too quickly. Confusional arousals are sometimes referred to as sleep drunkenness when it happens to adults whereas with children it is certainly more frightening especially to the parents.

Since children usually outgrow these episodes there really isn’t any danger unless it is sleep waking, which may be a problem if the child runs into something. As for adults you may be prescribed medication or you might be directed to someone who can instruct you on relaxation techniques.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Incident at a sleep study

We all know that sleep apnea can be dangerous. Lack of sleep can be problematic for the body and the mind. Lack of sleep can also cause accidents on the road due to a low energy level. Your productivity level  greatly drops due to sleep apnea which can be damaging to your career. Mood changes and even depression can be brought on by sleep apnea. It is also well know the heart can be adversely affected by the lack of oxygen in your blood system. This can really be scary if you or your partner has sleep apnea. Oddly enough an incident occurred at a sleep study where a young man died of a heart attack during a sleep study.

According to com “Brandon Harris, 25, died in January 2010 after his mother enrolled him at the Emory Sleep Center to see if he suffered from sleep apnea. Harris was overweight, mentally challenged and had congestive heart failure.” This is a terrible tragedy that you hate to hear about. Right now there is a lawsuit pending by the young man’s family.

This is probably the first time I have ever heard of something like this happening. I think that it is important to remember that this case is out of the ordinary and that it is still safe to have a sleep study done. I have had many sleep studies and the sleep techs were very professional and kept a good eye on me. Another thing to take from this case is to make sure to let the folks working at the sleep clinic know if you are having any problems at all.

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