scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Sleep apnea/CPAP
Thu May 25 2000 - 08:50:38 CDT
When one is diagnosed with sleep apnea and
fitted with a CPAP, must one then use the CPAP every night,
forever more? Is this similar to being put on a ventillator
and then not being able to be taken off the ventilator?
At what point is sleep apnea "life threatening?"
I'll bite... because I'm sure that there are a lot of people out there with
this, or who have friends or acquaintances. This is a quick-and-dirty
overview, not meant to take the place of competent medical advice. If you
think you should be concerned, see a doctor trained in this.
Apnea means "no breathing" (a, none; pnea, breathing). People with sleep
apnea close their airways when they sleep, so they are unable to breathe.
Big-time snoring may result, when their natural airway-protection mechanism
cuts in and they kinda gasp and take a huge breath. They breathe for a bit,
then fall back soundly asleep, and repeat all night.
The apneic may not realize that s/he is waking many many time per night,
because they may not wake to full consciousness. Their sleep pattern is
disrupted enough, though, to make them tired and mentally unawake in the
daytime. This, as you can imagine, is tough. Think about the last time you
were seriously sleep-deprived; now imagine doing it every night. And, unlike
when you had your newborn or a kid with an earache all night, not knowing why
you feel like crap <G>.
Some sleep apnea sufferers can be helped by a new, minimally-invasive,
day-surgery procedure which remodels the soft tissue in their upper airway,
such that it cannot flop closed during sleep. People interested in this
approach should call their local med center and ask for the sleep lab
director or the nearest university ear-nose-throat (otolaryngology)
department for a referral for evaluation. This fairly new procedure has been
VERY helpful for a lot of folks and kept them from needing CPAP. (It is also
useful for bigtime snorers-- and their bedfellows- who don't have sleep apnea
but are really loud. And a lot of them ARE found to have sleep apnea when
CPAP stands for "continuous positive airway pressure," and is a machine which
is worn during sleep to keep the airway open by providing constant air
pressure in the upper airway. It's most often a little mask which straps on
the face & is connected to an air compressor, but can also be "nasal CPAP"
which is a sort of little nose-mask that does the same thing. I have heard of
campers packing a car batter to run their machines, via an invertor. But most
often the people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to be overweight and not in
very good shape (not all of you, I know, but be honest--- most are), so
backpacking isn't usually their activity of choice anyway; the hook-up to the
car battery in the tin teepee is their work-around.
Can sleep apnea be life-threatening? If combined with obstructive lung
disease, decreased breathing can be very serios. The sleeplessness can make
you at risk for accidents, which could be life-threatening.
Hope this is helpful..
SA T47 Sandwich MA
Cape Cod & Islands Council
Abake MiSaNaKi Lodge #393
NSJ 1997 Nat'l Health & Safety and going in 01!
I useta be an Eagle...