Apnea/CPAP?


#1

Any QT3ers been diagnosed with a sleep apnea and/or sleep with a CPAP?

I did a sleep study last week (miserable experience) and they want me to go back again to test sleeping under a CPAP to see if corrects my sleep apnea. I'm a little apprehensive about the idea of sleeping with some bizarro Darth Vader mask on. I was wondering if anyone else who already does this can comment on how hard it is to get used to.


#2

I've used one for about 2 years. Initially, it was uncomfortable as hell, but after trying several different masks I was able to find one that worked for me. Now I can't imagine not sleeping with it.

If it turns out you do have apnea, you will feel so much better after just one night with CPAP that you will do anything to make it work. I transformed from falling asleep at work/constant headaches/always sick/no energy to a healthy, alert and happy person in just a few days. Granted, I had a very severe case - Apparently, I never entered REM sleep during my study and woke myself over 400 times.

Using CPAP completely changed my life for the better. If it turns out you need it, I strongly urge you to at least give it a few nights.


#3

I definitely have an obstructive sleep apnea. The initial study confirmed that I stopped breathing 60 times an hour. But all the other symptoms of a sleep apnea such as the headaches/no energy/fatigue are missing. So I'm curious what the actual improvement will be. Thanks for the advice though, if they say I need a CPAP I guess I'll do my best.


#4

I've been on a CPAP for about 2 months or so. They have all different kinds of masks, so it's a trial to see what works best and is comfortable. Lately, I seem to be opening my mouth at night, so I'll probably have to switch to a mask that covers my mouth.

My biggest gain was concentration at work, and energy level ... no more dozing off at the computer and in meetings constantly. When I happen to miss a night my awake hours the next day feel very weird.

They should recommend a CPAP with a humidifier. That was another thing I had to adjust to the right level for me. Haven't encountered many side effects other than the noise level the machine/mask gives off, and a case of stomach cramps if I sleep with my chin tucked in(the air goes into your stomach apparently).


#5

I will say that as someone who sleeps in the same bed as someone with a CPAP, you may want to consider getting earplugs for your significant others. They can be really hissy and noisy at times, unfortunately.


#6

Hmm, my wife sleeps with a fan on the bedside table anyway for white noise purposes so that's hopefully not going to be a big deal.


#7

Is it pointed at you and away from her? It's not noise she's trying to suppress, gassy.


#8

It's not pointed at either of us, it's purely a white noise device ;-)


#9

I've been told I should get a CPAP, until I pointed out my throat closes upon exhalation, which makes a CPAP useless for me. I solved my problem with an extra pillow.


#10

It's good that your problem was solved, but your reasoning was faulty.

CPAP is not useless when obstruction occurs during exhalation. It does not simply act during inhalation to add airflow: the purpose of CPAP is to maintain pressure (i.e. inflation) throughout the breathing cycle.

As an analogy, consider blowing a lungful of air into a balloon, and then letting it deflate completely. That's normal respiration, and depending on the balloon material, it may collapse when it's completely deflated.

Now take the same floppy balloon and blow a small amount of air into it, enough to make it slightly taut. Then blow another lungful into it on top of that, and then let only one lungful out. There's still some residual air in the balloon, which isn't allowed out. That residual air ("continuous positive pressure") keeps the balloon slightly taut until the next lungful goes in. With each cycle, the same volume goes into the balloon and out of it, but the balloon is never emptied and so it never collapses. That's basically how CPAP works: instead of operating from 0 cc to 500 cc, your lungs operate from say 200 cc to 700 cc*. The point of CPAP is to prevent lungs from fully deflating without reducing actual air delivery.

  • of course, your lungs are never really empty. Also, I made up the 200 cc figure, in reality the machine monitors pressure, not volume.

#11

That is correct, though that isn't why it works for obstructive sleep apnea (that is why it helps premature infants whose lungs aren't producing surfactant yet).

In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, the positive pressure serves to prevent the floppy tissue of the upper airway (tongue, large tonsils, adenoids, etc.) from collapsing, basically stenting the airway open all night long. It really can work wonders. I have seen people change their lives completely after starting CPAP. They were more energetic, were able to lose weight (for those whose apnea was due to weight), and just a general increase in quality of life.

Of course, if you aren't having any symptoms, the benefit could be less dramatic. Who knows, maybe with CPAP you will suddenly have gratuitious amounts of energy.


#12

As a fat guy, I've had a CPAP for about 3 or 4 years now. While it certainly does taking some getting used to, I find now that it is simply part of my nighttime ritual. The new machines are quite quiet, so the only hissing sound you'll experience is when the mask shifts on your face. I hate it when I get a little leaking upwards into my eye. Dries it right out.

Also, be prepared to shell out for a new mask every 6 months or so. Depending on the model you get, and how diligent you are with maintenance, your mask will crack or break or the gel will break down.

And I totally agree with your comment on the sleep study, Nick. I have another one coming up in a couple weeks, and I'm dreading it already.


#13

Air pressure has nothing to do with my throat closing; it's the total relaxation of my throat muscles that does it. Blow in all the air you want, that fucker's gonna shut regardless. Elevation changes the shape of my throat in prone position so the pathway doesn't completely close.


#14

I don't know much about sleep apnea, but I do know it killed a friend of mine from college. He was an awesome guy, and he just died in his sleep one night, with pretty much no warning.

That's probably a terrible thing to say to a bunch of people discussing a condition like this (where I understand death is extremely rare), but I felt compelled to encourage people to get to a doctor if they aren't already.


#15

You are correct that a lack of air pressure doesn't cause the problem, but it really can fix it. CPAP is specifically designed to prevent exactly what you are describing. My father has sleep apnea, and that's exactly what happens with him--when his muscles relax, the soft tissue in his throat closes over the airway. Constant positive pressure corrects the problem pretty effectively for him.


#16

I opted for the surgery to clear up my sleep apnea. So, based on personal experience, i can say with no reservations DO NOT GET THE SURGERY. Horrible, horrible pain.


#17

I had a sleep study done several years ago and was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea as well. However, mine is positional. Sleeping on my back causes my throat to close up, so the doctor recommended a very low-tech, simple solution. The test showed that when I slept on my sides, I didn't have any problems, so he suggested I take a tennis ball, put it in a sock, then pin the sock to my back between my shoulder blades.

It was nothing short of a miracle. I slept a thousand times better. After enough time, I was able to sleep without the tennis ball because I'd trained myself not to sleep on my back.


#18

Was it removal of the tonsils, soft palate, or adenoids? Because my pulmonologist did say I had huge tonsils and use the phrase "Those should probably go" which has me nervous she wants to surgerize.


#19

That sounds like it would hurt like hell.

Unless you wear pajamas, I guess.


#20

I've been using CPAP for about 5 years now. As far as I'm concerned, it's a goddamned miracle. If you're concerned about getting used to the mask, do what I did the first day: wear it for a couple hours before you go to bed.

I've never had a problem with the mask itself wearing out, but the silicone spacer for the bridge of my nose wears out relatively quickly, and the elastic straps get completely stretched out after about 6 months.

Also, anyone that's considering the surgery for obstructive apnea should really really reconsider. I think the cure rate is below 5%, and it's about as fun as having your tonsils removed.