CPAP Questions And Answers

Sleeping With CPAP

Hey, long time no post, eh? Up today I’ve taken a look at some of the longtail phrases in my traffic logs. I don’t rank well for some of the basic sleep apnea phrases, but I do have some pretty good longtail searches. I list some of the interesting ones below and give my reply. If you like, let me know in the comments below.

“i throw my mask off when I sleep” and “cpap taking off mask at night without knowing”

Likely one of two things are the cause here. You may be a bit claustrophobic. This is perfectly natural. Sticking a mask on your face before you go to bed that blows air at you all night long is not a normal thing to do. Try the steps I describe here to acclimate to the mask and gradually calm your fears. I had this problem in a bad way on my first attempt with CPAP therapy several years ago. My claustrophobia was so bad that just *looking* at the machine during the day was enough to send my heart racing.

The other likely cause of this problem is that your nose is clogged up during a point in your sleep cycle when you are slumbering lightly. It doesn’t take much to wake you up at this point, and the clogged nose can be very uncomfortable. You wake up, though not fully, sling your mask off and doze off again. This happened to me too for several months before I figured it out and took countermeasures. I describe this at length in my post Secrets of My CPAP Success. Read that post and see if your experience matches mine. I’ll be writing more soon about my battle to keep the nasal passages open.

“how long before you catch up on sleep with cpap”

I’ve read somewhere that for a normal sleeper the past 7 nights are the most relevant. If we applied this to OSA sufferers then just a week of effective CPAP therapy would be enough to make you right as rain. But that isn’t the case. My regular doc told me that it takes about 6 months of properly compliant CPAP treatment to become your old self again. And in my experience that is roughly true. Of course I couldn’t really understand that until I’d done it myself. And because it took me a good 6 months to achieve a level of decent compliance, getting back to some pre-OSA level of basic humanity took me about a year.

But if you’re just starting out I wouldn’t worry about that. Just do what you can on the sleep machine every night and work on improving your compliance all the time. The great thing about CPAP is that even if you can only manage a couple of hours a night in the mask you WILL feel a whole lot better than you do now. I can guarantee that.

And even after 6 months of good compliance, there are still subtle improvements awaiting, both in your body and your mind. At the time I write this I’ve been on CPAP just about 2 years and 3 months. Knock 6 months off that for the time I’ve been effectively compliant. So its about 1 year and 9 months now of CPAP success for me. And every month I do notice small improvements. If you want a way to gauge your improvement, try watching one of your favorite game shows. One that requires at least a little bit of brain power. Probably the most common would be Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy!. As your compliance improves you should notice your mental reflexes improving as well.

But if you are just starting out on CPAP, even 2.5 hours a night under the mask can make you feel like you’ve been shot out of a cannon the next day. Pretty cool.

Astelin

Astelin

“i can t breathe threw my nose when i sleep”

Ok, what are you going to do about it? For nearly 2 years now I’ve been using antihistamines to keep my nose clear thru the night. Its worked fairly well. Over that time I’ve averaged a little over 6 hours per night on CPAP. I use a regimen of three antihistamines: Astelin, Cetirizine, and Loratadine. Cetirizine is better known as Zyrtec and Loratadine you’ll recognize as Claritin. I rotate thru these from night to night.

Claritin

Claritin

Zyrtec

Zyrtec

Why three? Well, for the long answer I’m going to write a full post about it. Basically its what works for me, at least for now. I find that if I take the same antihistamine every night it becomes less effective. So I rotate. A lot of experience went into this, and you’ll really want to catch the full story. I’m working on it.

“how to set the air numbers sleep apnea machines”

DO NOT DO THIS. For gosh sakes, you had at least one and quite possibly two nights of sleep supervised by trained professionals and the paperwork reviewed by a doctor. All of that work to come up with a CPAP number that best fits you and your sleep patterns and now you want to change it? That is not smart. Its a lot worse than that, but this is a family-friendly blog.

I can understand the impulse. As a guy who is something of a tech geek I find these machines fascinating. I’ve spent some time learning how the thing works and I know how to access the control screens. I could change my CPAP number. But I won’t. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. Now if you are interested in digging up more data or changing your ramp-up time by all means go ahead and make adjustments.

If you’ve been complying for a long time and you think your OSA has improved, schedule an appointment with your doctor. You’ll need to prove your condition has changed in the lab.

“cpap can’t breath nose ent doctor”

I’ve already covered the plugged probiscus. I brought up this search phrase because of the “ent doctor” part. Before shelling out some dough for an ENT appointment, give my antihistamine regime a whirl. It doesn’t cost much and it might well work. If it doesn’t THEN go ahead and get your regular doc to give you a referral to an ENT specialist. Its unlikely your insurance will cover it all, and the out of pocket cost could be considerable.

This was my plan too. But the antihistamines are working. Eventually I’ll go to an ENT anyway. Probably within the next year or so. My GP has reported excellent results for some of his sleep-deprived patients who had procedures to correct a deviated septum. That isn’t the kind of thing a GP can diagnose; a visit to an ENT guy is mandatory. But we both believe that I may well have one.

CPAP Mask

CPAP Mask

“cpap set to 15 blows mask off”

Ha ha haaaa! Yup, I’ve been there. Big time. My number is 18. I’m on a BiPAP. Exhale is 12, inhale is 18. It gets worse. That number’s effectiveness is dependent on my sleeping position. During my titration appointment the operator would scale me all the way up to 25 when I slept on my back. Talk about blowing the mask off your face! And he said that even 25 was not very effective. He would have gone higher, but 25 was the machine’s top number. 18 was my best number only when I slept on my side. The left side to be specific. Sleeping on my right side is often as bad as sleeping on my back.

I’m not as bad as that now. I’ve lost a decent amount of weight – now that should generate some interest! – and expect that inside of 3 years I should be back at my pre-OSA poundage. My neck is definitely slimmer and I might well warrant a decrease in my CPAP number.

If your mask is blowing off, adjust the straps. Its not that hard. I could tell you how, but that can depend on the type and model of the mask. If there is interest – post a comment – I might write on this some more. By the way, that is my mask pictured above. And no, that ain’t me. And she really doesn’t look like she has OSA.

And I’d love to read whatever comments criticisms and brickbats you might have. Just post below.

I liked writing this post up; I think I’ll do more of them. In the meantime I’m working on a long post about my antihistamine dealie. I’ve waited several months to post, but I promise the next one will come in 2-4 weeks.

Beat Sleep Apnea!