Hello. This is my first post. Sorry it's so long. I was recently
diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea, severe while sleeping on my back.
I've probably had it for many years, as my wife has complained about my
loud snoring. Thankfully she is a heavy sleeper. I was only alerted to
the problem in the last 6 months when I woke up suddenly gasping for
air, which was scary. This always happened while back sleeping, in a bed
or in a recliner. Most of the time I slept on my side, so I wasn't aware
of it happening very frequently. But occasionally I rolled onto my back.
So after two all-night sleep studies, one for testing and one for
titration, I bought a CPAP machine which is set to a pressure of 8 and
the Respironics Series M Confort-Gel full-face mask with heated
humidifier. I have a deviated septum and inflamed turbinates which have
resulted in longtime sinus problems, mainly bad headaches and
congestion. I only mention this because I have found relief from morning
headaches since using the machine. This may be due to the humidifier
aspects of the machine, and not the sleep deprivation part, or maybe
from not sucking in dry air through my mouth. In winter dry months, if I
didn't sleep with room humidifier I noticed my sinus problems were much
I've used the machine for about 210 hours, or about 35 six-hour nights.
Not all of these nights have been continuous however, because I stopped
using the machine on three occasions because I developed a painful nose
bridge ulcer. I started using a small fabric bandages and also loosened
the strap on the upper part of the mask. Thats seems to have helped, or
else my nose has just toughened up. I have a dented bridge (result of
deviated septum) and have always had a problem wearing eyeglasses. They
hurt my nose bridge after awhile. In the first few mornings after use I
had A LOT of gas and bloating, but that seems to have abated recently.
Has it abated because my body has become acclimated, or has the machine
stopped working for me? Anybody else experience this? If anyone has had
a colonoscopy where they pump you full of air, I would equate the
feeling to that.
I have definately noticed a reduction in afternoon sleepiness since
using the CPAP. I used to get very tired about one hour after lunch and
had to fight off dozing at my desk, a battle I sometimes lost. I also
would often fall asleep watching TV in a recliner as early as 8-9pm at
night. That semi-reclined position would soon lead to total closure of
my airway, causing me to wake up very suddenly with a start. Not a good
feeling. I would describe my sleep in general as "hard". I can't say I
woke up rested but I wasn't extremely tired either. I was, and still am,
sleeping only about 6 hours per night, but I'd like to think I'm getting
more REM sleep now. I feel like I had a little energy boost after about
the third day, including more refreshed on awakening, but unfortuneately
I had to stop then because of the nose ulcer. I guess its been
diminishing returns since then, with regard to the energy boost-morning
freshness, but as I've said I am less sleepy after lunch and even better
have had a huge reduction in morning sinus headaches, which I often took
sinus medicine for relief.
I feel like I have a problem with memory recall. I haven't seen any
improvement in that area. Do I need to wait longer for possible benefits
of energy boost, memory recall, alertness etc..? I have noticed that I
remember my dreams more and I also have had a reduction in acid reflux,
though I might attribute this to switching from diet soda back to
regular soda. I tried diet soda to lose weight. I didn't lose any weight
but my acid reflux got worse. I read that diet soda is worse than
regular soda. I am 53 years old. At 6'2" and 200lbs most people wouldn't
consider me overweight, but I've gained about 20 lbs in the last year
which has all gone to my gut. I don't consider myself as "fit". I've
gone up one waist size already and now that is too tight. I need to
start exercising more and get back on that treadmill.
One question I have is my setting for air pressure is 8, with a ramp up
from 4. I never notice the ramp up, but can hear the air pressure
difference when I start the machine and stop it, so I know its working.
However, I find myself sleeping on my back more now, because when I roll
onto my side the mask hits the pillow and is up against it, so it gets
moved out of position and results in leaks. So I gravitate towards back
sleeping which for me results in severe, not moderate sleep apnea.
Should I be concerned my machine is not set high enough?
Because of my sinus/septum issues I think I am a mouth breather while
sleeping. I used to soak my pillow with saliva. But after putting on the
mask I always breathe through my nose and keep my mouth closed. I
suspect that after I fall asleep my mouth opens and I become a mouth
breather. I always awaken with a dry mouth and still am, even with the
humidifier and the mask covering my mouth.
Another question is with the leaks. I wake up many times during the
night to adjust the mask. But I wonder that I might have a small leak
and not wake up, in which case the machine isn't working and I am
wearing the mask for nothing. I guess some leakage is expected (since it
always comes out the emergency nose hole anyway). So too tight causes a
nose ulcer and too loose causes leaks. I guess the Comfort-Gel mask is
designed to create a seal around the face. Perhaps the fabric bandaid
and beard stubble interfere with that? Someone else described their
nightly issues as "mask karma" and I guess that about sums it up for me
I use distilled water and set the humidifier at 3, because that is the
middle setting and the therapist didn't provide any guidance for me. I'm
not really good at cleaning, but I wash the plastic liner (the part that
touches the face) every few nights with dish soap and warm water.
Anybody know about those Citrix mask wipes? I wash the blue gel part
less often because when its gets wet it absorbs water and doesn't dry
easily. I rinse the hose with warm water every two weeks or so. It
doesn't get dry so I run the machine air through it for 60 seconds or
so. I'm sort of flying by the seat of my pants here. My health care
provider does provide replacement parts, but only after I've met my
deductible and then I think its only 75%.
Again, I apologize for the length of this post. It won't happen again.
Please feel free to offer suggestions or respond to any part of my post
that you have an opinion on. Thanks.