Blogs > Sleeping with CPAP

Assistant News Editor Lee Dryden was diagnosed with sleep apnea and uses a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to assist with breathing while sleeping. From a layman’s point of view, he will discuss the benefits, issues, challenges and frustrations of sleeping while wearing a mask.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Maintenance man

  Warning: This is not the most scintillating of blog posts.
  Yet is it necessary if you are considering the CPAP route to treat sleep apnea.
  The machine is fairly simple to use and understand, yet there's more to it than just bringing it home and plugging it in.
  There is required maintenance to get the best possible performance and make the equipment last. Also, supplies need to be ordered regularly.
  As a reminder for those who aren't familiar with the machine, a mask is attached by a long flexible tube to a device that blows air. It also includes a water chamber/humidifier that requires distilled water.
  The letter from my doctor given to all new CPAP patients says it best, "Cleaning and maintaining your CPAP unit is your responsibility."
  In other words, don't rely on your spouse, mother or the CPAP fairy.
  Wash your mask every day. The water is to be changed daily, the humidifier needs to be washed at least weekly and the filters cleaned monthly and changed at least every six months. The filters are made of foam and about the size of a domino.
  The tubing should be cleaned once a week or so and can be hung in the shower to dry. As recommended by my health care supply company, I use baby shampoo for the mask and tubing while switching to hand soap for the water chamber and filters.
  Do I meet all these guidelines? Admittedly no, not always. But I clean them as often as possible as I notice a different taste in my mask when everything isn't clean. Yuck.
  Another responsibility is regularly ordering supplies (masks, filters, etc.) from the home health care company your doctor recommends. Your insurance company dictates how often items can be replaced.
  Maintenance is just another way that CPAP changes your life. It may seem daunting but it's do-able once you work it into your routine. The benefits are more than worth it.
  Thank you so much for reading this blog and enjoy the holiday season. More posts to come in 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You've got options

  This blog is called with Sleeping with CPAP because that is the treatment I am using to deal with my sleep apnea.
  But wearing a mask during sleep isn't for everyone.
  Rather than giving up - and dealing with the serious health issues stemming from constantly interrupted sleep - apnea sufferers should be aware there are other means of treatment.
  In fact, you could start investigating these during your next trip to the dentist.
  In a competitive landscape, more dentists are now adding sleep apnea treatment among their services.
  Jeff and Jason Ingber, a father-and-son dental duo with offices in Waterford Township and Pontiac as part of Metropolitan Dental Centers, have embraced their new area of expertise.
  Their team designs and builds a dental device that fits onto both levels of teeth to keep the airway open while sleeping.
  Treating TMJ disorders and apnea makes up less than 10 percent of their business but that is expected to grow to 30-40 percent, they told The Oakland Press earlier this year.
  Along with CPAP and the dental approach, surgery is also a consideration, although your doctor will likely want to try less invasive techniques first.
  Surgery is largely reserved for those with excessive tissue hindering airflow through the nose or throat, according to WebMD. People with deviated septums, enlarged tonsils and small lower jaw/large tongue combo may be candidates for surgery, which is typically outpatient (what isn't these days?).
  The surgeries address the narrow airway by tightening the palate, removing tissue, fixing nasal obstructions, or even moving jaw and face bones forward.
  Obviously, these are drastic measures and your doctor will steer you through the process.
  In fact, the mildest forms of sleep apnea can be treated by losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, sleeping on your side, using nasal sprays, and simply getting enough sleep, WebMD reports.
  But many people like me need more advanced treatment. My advice is don't try to diagnose or prescribe your own treatments. I'm a CPAP advocate but I'm more of a breathing advocate so find what works for you - with the assistance of experts, which you and I are not.
  It's good to have options.