Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sleep apnea and high altitude

Although I have never experienced it myself it appears that folks with sleep apnea may have an even more difficult time sleeping at higher altitudes. There was a new study done by Swiss researchers who concluded that sleep apnea patients could find the combination of the CPAP machine and a drug called Diamox.

There were 51 patients (mostly obese men) in the study and they were tested at altitudes of 5300 and 8500 feet.  According to USNEWs.comThe combined treatment with acetazolamide and CPAP led to improved levels of oxygen in the blood when patients were awake and sleeping, and better control of sleep apnea; it also reduced the amount of time spent awake during the night, compared with CPAP alone.”

Of course you need to check with your doctor to see if this medication is something that you may be able to use. It is also important to remember that the sleep apnea patients also used the CPAP machines as well.
“The drug Diamox or Acetazolamide is used to treat glaucoma and to treat and to prevent acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness). It is also used as a part of some treatment plans for congestive heart failure and seizure disorders.”

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Is sleep apnea making you depressed?

One of my earliest blog posts dealt with depression and sleep apnea where I wrote about how obstructive sleep apnea might be part of the reason I have been plagued with depression.  In fact I have also had doctors tell me that they think the lack of sleep certainly could be a big factor in my being depressed, although it isn’t the only factor by far.  I read an article at the Scientific American website that seems to back up that idea.

According to the article, “People with depression or other mental illnesses often report trouble sleeping, daytime drowsiness and other sleep-related issues. Now a growing body of research is showing that treating sleep problems can dramatically improve psychiatric symptoms in many patients.”

A study was conducted at the Cleveland Clinic  assessed  that women have a greater chance of becoming depressed from sleep apnea than men who have twice the change of being depressed while women’s chances are five to one. 

In fact the article goes on to say that trying to deal with the sleep issues should be tried before attempting any use of anti-depression medications. This sounds like a great way to attack the problems of depression of course it wouldn’t work for everyone but it would be worth the endeavor.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Electronic nose and sleep apnea

There are a lot of signs that you may have sleep apnea. One of the best is having your partner tell you that your snoring is deafeningly loud and that you sound like you are gasping for air throughout the night. Another way to tell is a lack of energy during the day as well as a problem with certain mental capacities like memory.  If you seek a doctor’s opinion at that point then he will set up a sleep study where you will find out one way or the other if you indeed have sleep apnea.  A recent study with a new device may also indicate whether you have sleep apnea or not, it’s called an electronic nose.

According to  Electronic nose devices have been shown to distinguish between a number of diseases; they do this by analyzing the pattern of volatile organic compounds in breath samples. This is the first study that has assessed whether the electronic nose could be used to confirm the presence of sleep apnea.”

The test was done with 60 people, 40 of which had sleep apnea and 20 did not.  The accuracy rate of detecting the sleep apnea patients was about 93 percent, which is pretty good. 

The importance of this device is that it may be able to replace the sleep study which isn’t a particularly pleasant test.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Elbowing and sleep apnea

If you are a peaceful sleeper that doesn’t snore than you probably don’t have many experiences being elbowed at night by your partner. But if you do have a sleep disorder that is disruptive like snoring or restless leg syndrome than you probably have tested your partner’s patience at night. This can be especially true if you have the sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.  In fact it might be a good thing that someone is elbowing you at night.

The University of Saskatchewan asked 124 patients who were about to have a sleep  study if their sleeping partner ever elbowed or poked them to stop snoring or to wake them up because they had stopped breathing.  It is not surprising that asking these types of questions can help predict whether someone is suffering from sleep apnea.

This isn’t particularly shocking because most of us who have sleep apnea have not only been elbowed or punched at night but usually told the next morning that our snoring or grunting or gasping for air is very annoying and is not conductive to a relaxing sleeping environment.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sleep apnea and slurred speech

After a night of unsatisfying rest due to sleep apnea you will most likely find yourself more than a little groggy.  No matter how much coffee you guzzle the daily effects of sleep apnea will be with you most of the day if not all of the day.  Memory loss and being slightly disoriented are 2 symptoms that will make the day less than productive. Something else that might be a problem is slurred speech.

According to the National library of Medicine slurred speech or Dysarthria is found in people that have “a nerve, brain, or muscle disorder makes it difficult to use or control the muscles of the mouth, tongue, larynx, or vocal cords, which make speech. The muscles may be weak or completely paralyzed, or it may be difficult for the muscles to work together.”

Slurred speech is often found in people who have had strokes, face or brain trauma or even dementia. Cerebral palsy and MS patients often have this disorder as well.

Is there a connection between sleep apnea and slurred speech?

This seems to make sense because sleep apnea patients usually have loose tissue in the back of the throat which in turn causes breathing to stop. has listed sleep apnea as something that could cause slurred speech also.

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sleep apnea and fainting

If you have ever fainted or felt extremely light-headed you know how helpless that feeling is. You may black out which can be dangerous depending on where you are at or what you are doing (especially if you are driving). Falling can also be a result of fainting which may lead to serious injuries.  It seems that sleep apnea and fainting do have a connection considering the causes of fainting and what sleep apnea does to your heart and general health.

What is fainting?

According to Wikipedia fainting (syncope) is “a sudden, usually temporary, loss of consciousness generally caused by insufficient oxygen in the brain either through cerebral hypoxia or through hypotension, but possibly for other reasons.” So there is a lack of oxygen in the brain that causes fainting (although that isn’t the only cause of fainting) which certainly makes it understandable that sleep apnea could be connected to fainting because the obstruction of the airway in the back stops oxygen from flowing in the body and the brain.

Another important finding coming from the National Institute of Health concerning syncope and sleep apnea…

“A 73-year-old man who had recurrent episodes of syncope. An extensive work-up, including cardiac and neurologic consultations, failed to identify the cause. An objective sleep evaluation led to the diagnosis of sleep apnea. Accordingly, the patient was treated with continuous positive airway pressure, which resolved the syncopal episodes. This case report generates a potentially important hypothesis that recurrent syncope may be effectively treated, in part, by correcting apnea. In patients with recurrent syncope of unknown etiology, a diagnosis of sleep apnea should be considered.”

So it sounds like fainting unrelated to heart problems can be solved by curing sleep apnea at least in this case.

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Sleep apnea and Rick Perry

Sleep apnea can have an effect on just about anyone no matter who you are or what you are doing.  Sports figures like professional football players have had to deal with this problem for quite a while and its no wonder because of the extra weight that they carry around plus the enlarged neck. But you don’t often hear about politicians especially presidential candidates having sleep apnea. This past week there has been talk that Rick Perry has suffered from a sleep disorder (sleep apnea) which may have caused some of the problems he had on the campaign trail.

According to New York Times "Perry had kept in touch with his medical team, and by early October, days after the Florida fiasco, the campaign had urgently consulted sleep specialists, bringing them in to investigate.

"After conducting overnight tests on Perry, they produced a rather startling diagnosis: He had sleep apnea, and it had gone undetected for years, probably decades."

That is certainly understandable because sleep apnea can play havoc with your memory as well as your energy.  Although in another article from the Houston Chronicle Perry denies that the problem was sleep apnea at all he claims it was due to a foot injury and that he was sleeping fine right now.


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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nocturia and sleep apnea

Does the need to use the bathroom wake you up several times each night? If you are like me you probably go quite a few times. This can be particularly irritating especially if you have sleep apnea. It seems that there is a connection between sleep apnea and Nocturia.

Nocturia is when you wake up to urinate. Bedwetting is called enuresis which is different because you don’t wake up.

The vast majority of people can limit their nightly bathroom visits to one time at the most, this is considered normal. Those who have severe Nocturia can go as many as 5 or 6 times. Two or three bathroom visits are about my average. Of course since I have sleep apnea I am usually awake anyway so it really doesn’t bother my sleep routine.

I was always under the impression that the reason you had to go to the bathroom so many times each night was due to a full bladder caused by drinking too many fluids before going to bed. Apparently, there is another reason and it has to do with sleep apnea. Here is a study that suggests that sleep apnea may be the reason for Nocturia.

So here is another reason to get rid of sleep apnea!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Do half of women have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is no longer a secret to most women and men, the effects on their health and mental well-being can be profound and even deadly. The lack of oxygen due to the blockage in the back of the throat not only causes you to wake up constantly throughout the night, it is also bad for your heart. Sleep apnea is often found in folks who have weight issues (although not all the time) and it can also be found in children as well. A recent study comes out with a shocking result saying that over half of all the women may have sleep apnea.

In a Swedish study of 400 women half of them were found to have mild to severe cases of sleep apnea. According to an article inReuters “Among women with hypertension or who were obese - two risk factors for sleep apnea - the numbers were even higher, reaching 80 to 84 percent of women.”

That is really astonishing considering the health risks involved in sleep apnea. What is even stranger is the notion that more men have sleep apnea than women, if that is true than sleep apnea is more of a problem than most folks realize.

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nocturnal epilepsy sleep apnea

Did you ever wonder if your sleeping problems were due to something else besides sleep apnea? Apparently there is one thing that is misdiagnosed as sleep apnea and that is nocturnal epilepsy.

What is nocturnal epilepsy?

I have written before about the connections between seizures and sleep apnea. But with nocturnal epilepsy the seizures occur while you are sleeping. There is also nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy that originates from the frontal lobe. Signs that you have had an episode of this are bedwetting, tongue bite, headaches and or being ill tempered during the next day. Medications that are used for regular epilepsy can be used for nocturnal epilepsy.

Is it sleep apnea or nocturnal epilepsy?

Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing during the night due to blockage in the throat (unless it is central sleep apnea) whereas nocturnal epilepsy is night time seizures. Apparently there have been some cases where nocturnal epilepsy has been confused with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and night terrors. Fortunately by having a sleep study done sleep apnea can easily be detected.

For more information concerning epilepsy go to the epilepsy foundation website.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

No get up and go with sleep apnea

Energy or the lack of it seems to be a major problem with just about everybody over the age of 50, maybe even 40. This has really become a hot issue due to the fact that the population as a whole is getting older.  As we get older it our vim and vigor doesn’t last too long and that is understandable because of natural causes and some things that we bring on our own like not eating right and forgetting about exercising.  Another energy zapper is lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep.  As you probably know sleep apnea is one of the biggest sleep problems around.

A night’s sleep can be broken down into 5 stages, with each one being important. sleep apnea can interrupt probably the most vital stage of sleep which is rapid eye movement or REM.  Not only is the body’s muscles rejuvenated during this stage but the brain is active which helps with memory and other functions. These factors can certainly help drain any energy that you may have.

What can you do about lack of energy due to sleep loss?

The best thing that you can do is work on eliminating your sleep apnea either through a type of CPAP or even a dental device depending how bad your sleep apnea is.  Losing weight may not cure sleep apnea but it can lessen the effects of it not to mention make you more healthy. Surgery is also an option but usually it is a last resort.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sleep apnea and bad breath

There are many reasons for bad breath such as diet, bacteria, medication and alcohol among other things. But did you know that sleep apnea can also cause bad breath.

Bad breath (halitosis) can be very embarrassing and often times difficult to get rid of. No matter how much mouth wash you use or how many times that you floss each day your breath still has a distinct odor about it. You try to get to the root of the problem but you just can’t understand why you have bad breath.

Maybe it is sleep apnea.

It is understandable why eating garlic and other food gives you bad breath. And it very believable that alcohol, in large quantities, can make your breath reek. But why sleep apnea? If you have sleep apnea and you breathe through your mouth your throat becomes very dry at night. All that air coming in and all that gasping dries out the throat.

What happens is that saliva controls the bacteria in the mouth, the same bacteria that can cause bad breath. When saliva production is affected by breathing through the mouth, the bacteria survives and creates the bad breath.

Of course if you fix the sleep apnea with the cpap or surgery then you won’t be able to blame your bad breath on sleep apnea.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sleep disorders like sleep apnea are big business

Everybody know that the cost of health care over the years has sky rocketed.  Being sick, especially having a disorder or illness can be very expensive.  And that is certainly true when it comes to sleep disorders like sleep apnea.  Some thirty years ago health issues like sleep disorders didn’t seem to get much attention but now a more health conscious society understands the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.  One of the most expensive and growing sleep disorders is sleep apnea.

Why sleep apnea?

Why has sleep apnea become such a leading problem among the general population, young and old. As we have talked about before one of the most common connections of sleep apnea is the air blockage of the throat and what often causes that is fatty tissue which in turn comes about because of being overweight.  There are other factors involved such as the shape of the face and the size of the tongue but being overweight is definitely the main reason. Ironically losing weight will certainly reduce the amount of apnea that you suffer with but it may not fix it completely.

Sleep apnea equals big business!

According to MEDpagetoday the US is the largest market for sleep apnea products followed by  Europe and Asia. And the whole global market is expected to worth a little under 20 billion by 2017. That is pretty big business!

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

New drug may help children with sleep apnea

While most folks consider sleep apnea an adult problem children can also have it as well.  The complications that can occur to children with obstructive sleep apnea can also be just as harmful, such as diabetes, behavioral problems and learning issues.  According to webmd dotcomNew research in the September 2012 issue of Pediatrics suggests an allergy and asthma drug -- montelukast (Singulair, which just went generic) -- may lessen symptoms in children with non-severe apnea and potentially allow them to skip the surgery.”

Another complication with sleep apnea for children is that they are more likely to have other sleep disorder such as night terrors, bedwetting, and snoring. Even infants can have sleep apnea as well

As it is so important to get yourself checked out for sleep apnea, it is just as important to have your child tested as well. The testing for children is pretty much the same as with adults with the best being tested in an overnight study at a sleep clinic. Being hooked up to wires and then trying to sleep is difficult but it is necessary.

Hopefully this new medication will allow some children to bypass the usual cures such as the CPAP machines or even surgery.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Can a Chiropractor help with your Sleep Apnea?

There are a few well known treatments for sleep apnea, the CPAP machine, or the various types of positive air machines such as bipap and apap. Some find relief with it but a lot of people just can’t get used to the feel of wearing a mask in bed and the noise is irritating too. Surgeries are usually considered a last option for sleep apnea patients due to the long recovery time and the fact that it isn’t always successful. There are also unconventional treatments and one of them involves seeing a chiropractor.

The chiropractic field is usually frowned upon by the medical community. But there is a large proportion of the population that has found their services invaluable and couldn’t do without them. I have known people who take their children to them at an early age to start treatments. So they do provide an important service to many people. But can they help with sleep apnea?

I have read where one person found relief from sleep apnea by having an adjustment to his neck curvature. Others have claimed that they can open up the mouth’s airway by stimulation of the nervous system. Another area that could be treated by a chiropractor is the muscles in the neck.

I haven’t read any conclusive evidence that a chiropractor can help with your sleep apnea but if you are interested you might want talk to a chiropractor yourself.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Claustrophobia and the cpap mask

One problem about the CPAP mask that I haven’t heard much about is claustrophobia. The CPAP mask can be cumbersome for most at the beginning because it is so unnatural to have a mask on your face while you are sleeping. I wrote about my experiences in an earlier post. But for some the problems might be a little more frightening.

Claustrophobia is a panic disorder that causes anxiety from the fear of enclosed places. Most sufferers fear the lack of movement that a tightly enclosed place puts them in or they fear a lack of oxygen. Training the patients to identify their fears and change their behaviors is the most common treatments.

Sleep Apnea patients who are claustrophobic due to their cpap mask can find relief by wearing the mask during the day for a few hours to get adjusted to the feel and the sound of the machine. They can also try out nasal pillows where tubes are inserted into the nostrils without having any straps on their face. Relaxation exercises might also be tried to control the anxiety of the CPAP mask.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sleep apnea and the immune system

There are some things that we just can’t do without, such as air, water and food (especially air!) but there something else that we have to have and that is sleep. Our bodies need to rest to recover our energy as well. In addition sleep also helps with our nervous system according to the National Institute of health.

 Too little sleep leaves us drowsy and unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory and physical performance and reduced ability to carry out math calculations. If sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings may develop. Some experts believe sleep gives neurons used while we are awake a chance to shut down and repair themselves.”

Sleep deprivation can also have an effect on our immune system, which protects us from getting ill.  While we sleep our bodies not only grow cells but repair them as well.

A recent study has also shown that sleep deprivation affects the immune system much as stress does.  A study was done in the Netherlands and Britain where 15 young men had their blood count compared after normal and sleep deprived situations.  The white blood cells were affected under the sleep deprivation similar to the condition of stress.

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sleep disorders besides sleep apnea

Besides sleep apnea there are other sleep disorders. Like sleep apnea they can be dangerous if left untreated.
  • Insomnia is very common sleep disorder that affects millions of people. The inability to fall asleep even when you are tired is emotionally draining as well as hazardous to your health.
  • Narcolepsy can cause immense daytime drowsiness to the point of falling asleep at any point of the day and anywhere. Besides being embarrassing it could be life threatening if the narcolepsy patient is driving or operating heavy machinery.
  • Night terror unlike nightmares usually can’t be recalled after waking up. Nightmares are dreams of frightening events whereas night terror is the feeling of fear.
  • Restless legs syndrome is where the need to move your legs to stop uncomfortable feelings happens while you are trying to sleep.
  • Walking or engaging in wake time activities while one is still asleep is referred to as sleep walking. Stress, fever and alcoholism are known as triggers to sleepwalking.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sleep apnea and carbohydrate craving

Sleep apnea can bring on a lot of changes to a person’s lives, and all of them are bad.  The simplest change being the lack of sleep the prior night and how it effects your day at work no matter what type of job you have. A few nights and days like that will quickly increases your stress that you are carrying around which in turn makes you a less effective worker and someone that could possibly have a problem with high blood pressure among other things.  Diabetes is also another potential problem with sleep apnea sufferers. In fact a recent study has shown that folks with diabetes-2 have a higher carbohydrate craving.

There are been numerous studies that show the connection between diabetes and sleep apnea. According to the InternationalDiabetes Foundation 40 % of folks with obstructive sleep apnea also have diabetes.  That number is really extraordinary and troubling at the same time.  Sleep apnea by itself is bad enough but it also worry about becoming diabetic can make you want to give the CPAP another try.

The study that linked carbohydrate craving and sleep apnea had 55 people in it and half were diabetic and of that group 82 percent had sleep apnea. The study also showed that the diabetics were twice as likely to have carbohydrate craving as those without diabetes.

Why would sleep apnea lead to carbohydrate cravings?

Once again according to the study…

"Previous studies have shown that sleep deprivation may lead to changes in hormones that regulate appetite and hunger” and “these hormonal changes can lead to significant craving for high-calorie carbohydrates such as cookies, candy, breads, rice and potatoes. The current study supports previous findings by validating this in a community sample of diabetics."

They also imply that just treating the diabetes wouldn’t be enough to stop the craving; the sleep apnea will have to be corrected as well.  Which of course is easier said than done.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

New report on sleep apnea and sex drive

Every week there seems to be a new reason to control your sleep apnea and this week is no different. If heart problems, GERD, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and memory troubles aren’t enough for you to seek help then you also might want to consider something else, sleep apnea interferes with your sex drive, if you are a male.

According to a report from the Sleep Disorder Center of Walter Reed Military Hospital” erectile dysfunction is common in younger men with sleep apnea, but that E.D. -- and libido -- improves in men who use the CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine.” The test results showed that 54 % of those tested found an improvement in their E.D. problems. It also seemed to help with their sex drive as well.

It’s no surprise that the CPAP machine is credited with helping men with these types of sexual issues, in most sleep apnea health problems CPAP is usually considered the best way to end or control this disorder. Of course as many of you probably know using a CPAP mask at night can be difficult to get used to even though there has been lots of improvements to the mask and machine over the years.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cough medicine and sleep apnea

Falling asleep is never easy if you have sleep apnea that isn’t being treated. You wake up constantly throughout the night due to the blockage at the back of your throat that stops your breathing, which in turn makes you wake up.  What can possibly be worse than that is when you have a cold or any type of congestion problem.  This week I had a bad cough and sinus infection that seems at its worse during the night. I went to the doctor and he prescribed an antibiotic and cough medicine.

As you probably have heard or read about, any medication that makes you drowsy such as sleeping pills is a bad idea for those suffering from sleep apnea. In fact it makes the sleep apnea only worse because it relaxes the muscles in the back of throat which causes greater blockage and more apnea occurrences.  Some cough medicines do have codeine in them (mine did) which causes drowsiness.

So what do you do? Unfortunately my cough was getting the best of me so I decided to try the cough medicine and it did seem to help somewhat with the cough.   I was surprised and happy that the cough medicine really didn’t have that much of an impact on my sleep apnea. Sure it make  me tired but I don’t that I woke up any more times than I usually do during the night.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sleep Apnea and the Military

I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have sleep apnea while serving in the armed forces. Getting limited rest each night due to sleep apnea must make it very difficult to function in a job that requires such physical activity.  But with over 20 million Americans suffering from OSA it is understandable that is a large percentage of them in the military. As a matter of fact, the number of sleep apnea patients in the military has been increasing according to an article in USA Today site.

In 2010 the number of soldiers having sleep apnea increased by 61 percent which translates in a cost of around 500 million. The cost of sleep apnea is from such things as heart disease, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure among other things.

Why the increase in sleep apnea?

The reason is probably the same for military personnel and those who aren’t in the military, people just don’t get tested for it. They may thing that there problem is just snoring and nothing else, they don’t realize the danger associated with OSA. Another increase in sleep apnea is due to the fact that many gain excess weight after leaving the military, which is a big cause for sleep apnea.

Veterans who developed sleep apnea while on active duty receive a disability check each month for having OSA.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sleep apnea and cancer

Just when you thought that you have heard about every bad thing that can happen to a sleep apnea sufferers, two more studies come out that suggest that there is a connection between cancer and sleep apnea.

The New York Times Well Blog describe how one of the tests in Spain suggested that  the most severe sleep apnea patients have a 65 percent chance of developing cancer than those folks without it. The other study was in Wisconsin where they looked at 1500 government workers and determined that they have 5 times the rate of dying from cancer than those who don’t have sleep apnea.

Of course these tests aren’t a 100 percent certainty that there is a connection between sleep apnea and cancer, but it does make you wonder. I’d imagine that the use of CPAP on a regular basis would probably be helpful at lowering the odds of getting cancer from sleep apnea, but the report didn’t look at that.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sleep walking and sleep apnea

I remember as a child having episodes of sleepwalking. It really didn’t seem to bother me much until I woke during a walk in the middle of night in another room in the house. It was very disorienting to slowly realize that you don’t know where you are. My parent didn’t seem concerned assuming that I would just outgrow it and I did. I wondered whether my other sleep problem, which is sleep apnea, might have something to do with that.

According to Science DailyNearly 1 in 10 patients with obstructive sleep apnea also experience "parasomnia" symptoms such as sleepwalking, hallucinations and acting out their dreams” which seems strange to me considering how little sleep folks with apnea get but there is a study from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine to back it up.

Sleepwalking occurs during the “deep sleep” stage of sleep. What causes it is unknown but it might be because of mental disorders, medications, fatigue and alcohol. The majority of cases happen to children. Folks would do sleepwalk have their eyes open and they may do a number of routine activities around the house, although they wouldn’t remember them later.

A recent study has suggested that nearly 30 percent of folks in a study have had some kind of sleep walking occurrence as an adult or child according to These numbers have dramatically increased over the past 30 years.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sleep apnea and the NFL

Sleep apnea has become a major health risk for an ever growing segment of the population. Why now? There are a couple reasons such as sleep disorders and sleep apnea in particular has gotten a lot of press over the years as health in general is being closely watched. Lack of sleep can lead to more problems than just being tired. Another health issue that is connected to sleep apnea is being overweight. The excess pounds are a major contributing fact to sleep apnea where fat in the face and neck areas can cause blockage in the back of the throat. One group of folks that seem to be affected by this is NFL players.

 According to a story on ABC GMAA new medical study finds that up to one-third of NFL players have sleep apnea, a disorder that creates serious health risks and increases the chance that players will not get a good night's sleep before they hit the gridiron.”

That is mind boggling but certainly believable considering excess weight is a big part of sleep apnea. Being over 300 pounds isn’t out of the norm for a lot of players especially line men. And having a large thick neck along with being heavy also ups the odds of getting sleep apnea.

It seems certain that the league is taking sleep apnea very seriously considering all the health risks that are involved for the players.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is Titration?

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is using a CPAP machine where air is pushed through a tube into your throat to keep your airway open. While it sounds rather simple there are quite a few issues that are involved with this process with the biggest being the comfort of wearing a mask at night and having air forced into your throat. Not everyone can get used to the mask but many do. What does get a little tricky is how much air pressure is taken through the mask. This is called titration.

If you think that you have sleep apnea your first step should be to your general practitioner who will send you on to a sleep specialist, who are typically ENTs or pulmonologists (respiratory doctors). If the sleep specialist thinks that you may have sleep apnea then they will set up a sleep study which will determine whether you have sleep apnea or not.

In my case the first sleep study was just to determine if I had sleep apnea whereas some folks have a split study where the second half of the night the sleep technicians put a CPAP mask on you.  The technicians will monitor your sleeping or lack of it from another room. They can also adjust the amount of air that is going through your CPAP mask. Hopefully at the end of the study the sleep techs will have enough information to send to your doctor to recommend a titration setting on the CPAP machine.

If you do decide to try the CPAP machine the titration rate will be adjusted for you by a sleep tech. usually a nurse or someone who specializes in CPAP setting will come out to your house with the CPAP and set it up for you.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

How fast is sleep apnea’s damage?

Some illnesses bring on health problems right away whereas others might go undetected for quite a while. I used to wonder where you would put sleep apnea, does it have an immediate impact on you or does it take a while.  If you consider that there are a lot of folks that have sleep apnea and don’t even know it you would think that severe health risks would arise after some time. In a recent article in Science Daily they go over a study that showed how quickly sleep apnea can affect the body.

The study looked at the effect that sleep apnea had on a group of middle aged men who had obstructive sleep apnea and their conclusion was that even a mild form of sleep apnea can cause problems in the cerebral vessels which may lead to a stroke.  What is really frightening is that the cerebral vessels may be altered after 30 days!

That has to be awfully scary for anyone who has had sleep apnea it should also be “wakeup call” for those who think that they might have sleep apnea but they haven’t been tested.  If the present is any indication the number of people with sleep apnea will continue to rise causing an incredible health risk in the future.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Provent nasal patch and sleep apnea

Last year I wrote about a new device that helps those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, the Provent Nasal Patch. It seems that the device has been getting more popular and more press since it was approved in 2008 by the FDA.

The idea behind the Nasal patch is quite simple. A plug is put in each nostril and there is adhesive to hold them in place. The device is referred to as an EPAP or expiratory positive airway pressure which in essence causes pressure through exhalation this forcing the upper airway to become open. The patches are also disposable. There are been studies that show the device to be highly effective for more information on subsequent studies go to the National Institute of Health’s page on the device and study.

As you can imagine not everyone is suited for this type of device although it might not be as cumbersome as a CPAP mask and probably not as effective.  I don’t know if the insurance companies are covering yet it would probably be best just to check with your health care provider.

The company that makes it refers to it as Proventtherapy, check out their website for further information.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

My father had sleep apnea also

Your family’s health history especially your parents can be a great indicator of potential health problems down the road. In my own case my father had heart disease and died from a heart attack, it wasn’t really surprising to find out that heart problems ran in his family. This information has been golden for me because I have made sure that my cholesterol and blood pressure has been in the normal range for quite a few years.  But there are some illnesses like sleep apnea where you wouldn’t think that heredity would play a part in it, but it does. Unfortunately my father had sleep apnea and so do I.

Of course there is more than one factor that leads to sleep apnea; probably the main one is being overweight. When you put on the extra pounds some of them end up on your face and neck which in turn contributes to the blockage of the airway in the back of the throat. I’m not sure that being overweight is caused by heredity but some folks seem to think so.

The possible connection with regards to sleep apnea between my father and me is the shape of our faces. That seems strange but the shape of one’s face can cause sleep apnea. If the face is round and big this somehow can cause a blockage in the back of the throat. There seems to be some validity in that because his face was round like mine. What was also strange was that he wasn’t overweight at all.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sleep apnea and mandibular advancement splint

Last week I was discussing sleep apnea and surgeries and how they are usually reserved for those who have tried the CPAP and it doesn’t really help them. I received a comment from Thomas Bishara, DMD about the mandibular advancement splint (a device that I can’t remember if I had heard about before or not)

Here is the comment…

I treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and primary snoring patients. The mandibular advancement splint is a popular non-surgical approach to snoring/OSA treatment.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliance therapy as the first line therapy for mild and moderate OSA. Patients with severe OSA should try CPAP first. If patient is found to be CPAP intolerant, they should be fitted for a MAS.

We also use combination CPAP/MAS to reduce the CPAP pressure and make using CPAP more comfortable. Many patients have tried the surgical route with mixed results, Thanks for your post

The mandibular advancement splint sounds interesting of course like the Dr. said it is only for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Any time you can find a non-surgical device to help with sleep apnea you should consider it. I looked at Wikipedia and I found a picture of the device. Although it doesn’t appear to be very comfortable looking it still may be worth a try.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strange cures for sleep apnea

Conventional wisdom always tells us to follow the tried and true cures for illnesses whether it is for a cold or something much worse. And that makes sense because your doctor is usually instructing you to do that. However you probably have also heard of home remedies or tricks that can also make you better.  The main remedy for sleep apnea of course is the CPAP machine, a rather cumbersome device that blows air down your mouth while you try to sleep. The constant air forces the airway to remain open in the back of the throat. While this method has proven to be effective for a lot of folks it is very difficult to get used to.  There are other cures, strange cures, for sleep apnea.

You probably wouldn’t think that making faces would help with sleep apnea but some people believe that it does.  In the past I have written about face and throat exercises and how they strengthen the throat muscle which in turn prevents them from collapsing while you sleep.  I have read that some folks have found this beneficial but not everyone.

Another is playing the didgeridoo, a wind instrument from the aborigines from Australia. Once again this will supposedly strengthen the muscles of the back throat.

Something that isn’t really strange but I know will help is losing weight in the battle will sleep apnea. Less weight means less fat around the fat which another cause of blocking the airway.  Losing weight when you are tired isn’t easy but it is definitely worth a try.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sleep apnea and pneumonia

As most folks with sleep apnea have found out, this disorder can cause more problems than just a lack of sleep. In previous posts I have written about the major danger of sleep apnea and that is the blockage of air in the back of the throat which means that oxygen is cut off  which in turn forces your body to wake up. There are other major health issues that can also be associated with sleep apnea such as Diabetes, GERD and high blood pressure. Sleep deprivation due to this illness can also cause memory and concentration problems as well.  Something that I didn’t realize though was that there is a connection between sleep apnea and pneumonia.
According to the National Library of Medicine pneumonia is “a breathing (respiratory) condition in which there is an infection of the lung. It is also a common illness that affects millions of people each year in the United States. Germs called bacteria, viruses, and fungi may cause pneumonia”

Connection between pneumonia and sleep apnea

According to a study there seem to be a connection between community acquired pneumonia and sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome.  That certainly makes sense because pneumonia is caused by an infection of the lung and sleep apnea also has an adverse effect on the lungs. Bronchitis is also another disorder that is similar to pneumonia and has also been connected with sleep apnea.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Idiopathic hypersomnia and sleep apnea

Surprisingly enough not all sleep disorders are derived from sleeping too little.  Sleep apnea, caused by blockage in the back of the throat, results in getting very little sleep if any and insomnia, which is the most common of sleep disorders, prevents you from getting any rest.  30 to 40 percent of all adults have some sort of insomnia during the year.  But there are those that have just the opposite problem, they sleep too much. If you have problems sleeping you probably don’t think that would be much of a problem but it is. Idiopathic hypersomnia is where you are sleeping excessively without a cause.
One sleep disorder that also causes you to fall asleep at any time or anywhere is narcolepsy. However with idiopathic hypersomnia it can be just as difficult to fight off daytime sleepiness as it is with narcolepsy. Another distinction is that with hypersomnia night time sleep isn’t interrupted unlike narcolepsy. According to the National Library of Medicine someone with this type of disorder can sleep between 14 and 18 hours a night. Even a nap during the day doesn’t necessarily help.
Since the name of the disorder has the word “idiopathic” in it you can probably guess that what causes this sleep problem are unknown. Treatments vary from changing your sleep routines to medications, check with your doctor to see what options you may have.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sleep apnea can be a problem for children

In my own sleep apnea story I really didn’t develop the sleep disorder till I was in my thirties.  I’m not quite sure why but I assume it had to do with the fact that I gained a lot of weight and due to a back problem I had to sleep on back instead of my stomach or side. Did I have sleep apnea before that? I might have but no one ever talk about it when I was younger.  In today’s world sleep apnea is well known to be found in folks of all ages, from babies to kids to adults. It seems that sleep apnea can be more of a problem then you think for children.
What are the causes of sleep apnea in children?
Like adults obesity is a leading cause of sleep apnea. The more weight that you carry around especially around your neck causes blockage in the airway of your throat. Since childhood obesity is such a major problem today this also leads to an increase in diabetes for children.  Other causes of sleep apnea for children are an enlarged tongue and tonsils.
It is also found that kids who have sleep apnea are also more likely to have other sleep disorders such as bedwetting, night terrors and snoring.  This may also contribute to learning problems and behavioral issues.
Surprisingly enough infants can also have sleep apnea as well, with the blockage of the airway as a cause.
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hearing loss and sleep apnea

It seems at times that sleep apnea can be connected to just about any kind of health problem that you can imagine and that is certainly understandable considering how it affects the body.  Not getting enough or any rest makes you susceptible to injuries because of your lack of concentration. It is well known about all the things that can happen to your body when you don’t get enough oxygen (caused by obstruction in the back of the throat) such as heart disease, diabetes and blood pressure problems.  What I just found out that there might be a connection between hearing loss and sleep apnea.
There was a study done in Taiwan that suggests that there could be a link between OSA and hearing loss according to  Sudden hearing loss was found in people who had sleep apnea as well, although the percentage wasn’t that high.  A Doctor is quoted in the article that the problem of sudden hearing loss may be due to plaque in the blood vessels which can occur with sleep apnea. The vessels of the brain that control hearing may also be affected by plaque as well causing hearing loss. While nothing can be substantiated or definitely proven it opens up another area to study with regards to sleep apnea.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sleep apnea, strokes and small lesions

I have read in the past about the connection between strokes and sleep apnea.  Unlike a heart attack a stroke has to do with the blood supply being cut off from the brain which in turn stops certain functions within the brain. Stroke victims often suffer from paralysis and diminished body control due to brain damage.  Similar to sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure can also be a factor with regards to having a stroke. 
An article from Occupational Health Safety states that small lesions in addition to strokes can come about because of sleep apnea.  The article refers to a study that shows 91 percent of the stroke victims (in the study) also had sleep apnea.  To me that is a really frightening number to think that large of percentage of stroke victims had sleep apnea beforehand. The type of stroke that they refer to is called silent strokes where there are none of the usual effects of strokes but it can be just as dangerous.  And the article goes on to say that one third of the study participants had white matter lesions which are attributed to the strokes.    
For more information on strokes go to the Stroke Organization website
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hag phenomena and sleep apnea

There are many sleep disorders besides sleep apnea with one of the most frightening called hag phenomena or sleep paralysis. As I described in a post a few years ago sleep paralysis is what happens when you wake up and can’t move, which can be terribly frightening. The reason it is called hag phenomena that the feeling of not being able to move when you wake was compared to having a witch sitting on you in bed.
I received a comment recently regarding the sleep paralysis post
Here is part of the post from Reesy…
I have had the experience about three or four times. I consider myself to have quite a strong resolve but to wake up unable to move or breathe is horrendous. I focus so hard on trying to move and snap myself out of it but it is almost impossible - I have been researching online and most conclusions are that the body will eventually kick in and it is just connected with REM.
In fact states that a possible reason for sleep paralysis “Sleep researchers conclude that, in most cases, sleep paralysis is simply a sign that your body is not moving smoothly through the stages of sleep” and it isn’t connected to any psychiatric problems. However a study by states that 16 percent of those who have experienced sleep paralysis met the criteria for panic disorders.
 For more stories on sleep paralyses check out this site.
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Can losing a few pounds help with your sleep apnea?

If you have done any research on sleep apnea and what causes it then you know the connection between it and being overweight. In fact most folks realize that being overweight increases your chances of developing sleep apnea.  Excess fat around the neck and face area contribute to the blockage of your air way which in turn causes the apnea. While there are other reasons for sleep apnea such as an enlarged tongue and a round face, being overweight is one of the main reasons why folks have sleep apnea.
Will weight loss cure your sleep apnea?
Not all the time, but it will decrease the severity of it.  According to Webmd.comResearchers found that people with severe obstructive sleep apnea who lost the recommended amount of weight were three times more likely to experience a complete remission of sleep apnea symptoms compared with people who didn’t lose weight.”
That is certainly good news and a definite reason to try to lose some weight. Unfortunately as we all know losing weight and keeping it off can be quite an endeavor especially for those with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea zaps you of most of your energy (which isn’t much because of the lack of sleep you get!) making it very difficult to keep up an exercise program which is has to be a part of any weight loss program along with a proper diet.
There are things that you can do like joining a weight loss program where you will be losing weight slowly which is very important and also make sure the program has a detailed exercise plan as well.
The government also has a wonderful site about all things dealing with nutrition and eating right, definitely checks it out.
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