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Healthier living through sleep and respiratory care and wellness.

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Seeing is Believing: Study Shows a Higher Use of CPAP in Patients Who See Their Sleep Apnea

Seeing is Believing: Study Shows a Higher Use of CPAP in Patients Who See Their Sleep Apnea

Seeing is Believing: Study Shows a Higher Use of CPAP in Patients Who See Their Sleep Apnea

By Reyna Gobel

new study reveals that patients who see a videotape of their sleep apnea may lead them to use their CPAP machines more.

The question everyone wants to know is, What makes videotaping in a sleep lab different and better than videotaping one’s spouse at home?

According to the lead author of the study, Dr. Mark Aloia, Senior Director of Global Clinical Research for Philips Respironics and associate professor of medicine at National Jewish Health, it wasn’t just the visual that encouraged patients to use their CPAP machines more. The videos were edited down to a few minutes and were one element in a 30-minute educational session that also included physiological data from the patients’ CPAP machines. The information combined was more powerful in showing patients they actually gasped for air in an apnic episode.

Having your spouse videotape your sleep poses its own issues: Besides the fact you must consent to being videotaped, a recording made at home lacks context. A sleep behavior specialist or nurse knows more about the physiology and psychology of what’s happening during an apnic episode than your spouse would. Plus, a medical specialist can discuss with you the different ways that using your CPAP machine longer can help you sleep better.

The study consisted of 24 sleep apnea patients: 12 people who were shown a video of someone else’s sleep apnea and 12 individuals who were shown a video of their own sleep apnea. The 12 individuals who viewed themselves used the CPAP machine for two more hours per night three months after watching the video.

The study’s findings were interesting enough that Dr. Aloia plans to conduct a larger study of 300 sleep apnea patients.

Easier Traveling with Your CPAP

Easier Traveling with Your CPAP

Easier Traveling with Your CPAP

By Reyna Gobel

Positive airway pressure (PAP) sleep therapy machine users have unique issues when it comes to packing and traveling. Specifically, they must deal with two problems: securing their PAP and accessories securely in their luggage and then unpacking and repacking their PAP when going through airport security checkpoints operated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

According to the TSA's guidelines for traveling with PAP machines, the main part of the PAP machine must be removed from luggage at security checkpoints. However, face masks and tubing can remain in luggage. The PAP machine can be stored in a protective clear plastic bag for x-ray screening, but a TSA officer may need to remove it to test for traces of explosives, the guidelines noted.

When considering what luggage to use, look for compartments to keep your PAP separate from other items. Because you’ll need to remove it, you want to make sure it’s both easily accessible and easily returnable to an area with enough padding to protect your machine during travel. If you’re buying new luggage, bring your machine with you so you can make sure your PAP fits securely, there’s room for accessories, and it’s accessible for security screening.

One option for luggage is the Phillips Respironics PAP travel briefcase. It’s a black hybrid PAP carrier/laptop bag and has a compartment for PAP sleep therapy equipment as well as all accessories. To make full use of carry on limits set by airlines, the luggage also contains a large, separate laptop area that holds a laptop, laptop accessories and small travel items. The laptop and PAP sleep therapy equipment sections of the bag are attached by a center zipper that opens fully, so users have the option of using the bag to carry their PAP equipment without the laptop portion.

Since the dimensions of the PAP travel briefcase luggage is 22 inches wide by 14 inches high by 9 inches deep, it fits on top of rolling luggage. It is available from medical providers.

Whatever luggage you pick, be prepared to remove your PAP easily. You’ll zip through security and onward to a good night’s sleep.

Can Sleep Apnea Be to Blame for Your Hearing Loss?

Can Sleep Apnea Be to Blame for Your Hearing Loss?

Can Sleep Apnea Be to Blame for Your Hearing Loss?

By Jennifer Nelson

If you have poor hearing, sleep apnea may be to blame. Say what?

Yes, researchers think sleep apnea does not exist in a bubble but may be a sign of underlying health conditions.

“It probably affects multiple different organs, so I would probably urge we start thinking about sleep apnea as more like a chronic disease with vascular and inflammatory issues,” said Dr. Neomi Shah, an associate director of the Pulmonary Sleep Lab at Montefiore Medical Center in New York and an author of a study linking sleep apnea and hearing loss.

The study looked at of 13,967 subjects from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, and found that sleep apnea was associated with hearing impairment.

Why the connection? Researchers think underlying inflammation in blood vessels could be to blame, since the ear would be prone to that kind of a problem.

Sleep apnea was associated with a 31 percent increase in high-frequency hearing impairment, a 90 percent increase in low-frequency hearing impairment and a 38 percent increase in combined high- and low-frequency hearing impairment.

The good news is those diagnosed with sleep apnea don’t necessarily become hearing-impaired. Scientists aren’t quite sure yet which comes first, hearing loss or sleep apnea, or if there is a common third factor. Also, treating sleep apnea may improve hearing loss in patients who do have it.

More studies are needed, including whether the sleep disorder actually causeshearing loss and whether other ethnic populations are equally affected.

Lead author Dr. Amit Chopra, at the Albany Medical Center in New York, noted patients with sleep apnea are also at increased risk for a number of health-related issues including heart disease and diabetes, and hearing impairment now may be added to that list.

Control Your Snoring, Save Your Skin

Control Your Snoring, Save Your Skin

Control Your Snoring, Save Your Skin

Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. And if you snore, it’s a good idea to speak to your primary healthcare professional or a sleep expert about being evaluated for the sleep disorder sleep apnea or participating in a sleep study.

But according to a new study, you may also want to schedule a visit with your dermatologist: Spanish researchers support previous theories that sleep apnea may be a risk factor for melanoma.

The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

The Skinny on Sleep Apnea

The study isn’t the first one to examine the connection between skin cancer and sleep apnea. But it is the largest study to connect the dots.

Previous studies have pointed to a link between sleep apnea and both the increased risk of developing, and dying from, melanoma. Some experimental animal studies in mice indicate the reduced oxygen levels in the blood associated with untreated sleep apnea enhances the growth of cancerous tumors.

In the new study on humans, 60.7 percent of participants with melanoma had sleep apnea and 14.3 percent had severe sleep apnea. The results found the melanoma was more aggressive as the severity of sleep apnea increased. The severity of the sleep apnea also was linked with other factors of aggressiveness, including the growth rate or the depth of invasion of the tumor.

Continually Protecting Your Skin

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 (higher is better) as one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

But for those with untreated sleep apnea, that’s not enough—treatment of sleep apnea can be critical in significantly reducing their risk of developing melanoma, according to the Spanish study. Luckily, treatment is relatively easy and can be highly effective.

The most common form of therapy used to treat sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Your doctor may prescribe this treatment following an evaluation, which may include a sleep study, and diagnosis.

Worried your skin could be at risk? If you’ve been told you snore or stop breathing during the night by your sleep partner, are often fatigued or take naps during the day or wake frequently during the night, talk to your health care professional about the possibility you may have sleep apnea. Or take this quick quiz to further assess your risk.

OSA and Insulin Resistance: A Link?

OSA and Insulin Resistance: A Link?

OSA and Insulin Resistance: A Link?

It’s common for people living with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to feel excessive fatigue during the day. But a group of studies show those living with untreated sleep apnea also could be on the road to diabetes.

OSA obstructs the airway, making it difficult for a person to breathe properly during sleep and causing them to wake up frequently (even if they don’t remember), which leads to the fatigue. And several studies also show OSA triggers changes in the body’s use of insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas that plays a major role in metabolism, which leads to a person developing insulin resistance—a precursor to diabetes.

The risk isn’t limited to adults: Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance in children, according to a study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a person with insulin resistance produces insulin but does not use it effectively. Insulin resistance causes a buildup of glucose in the blood by not being absorbed by cells. This leads to a person developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

The good news is most people can often prevent or delay diabetes that results from insulin resistance by making changes to their lifestyle. In addition to diet and exercise to control weight and sugar intake, one of the most significant changes is treating OSA.

That’s because sleep apnea is thought to cause metabolic changes that increase insulin resistance, research showed. The intermittent deprivation of oxygen caused by obstructed airways associated with sleep apnea causes a distinct drop in insulin sensitivity.

The first step in getting a handle on sleep apnea is assessing your risk for the sleep disorder. This online quiz can help you determine if you, or a loved one, are at risk. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, which can include fatigue, waking with a dry mouth, snoring or stopping breathing while sleeping or waking up several times a night.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be prescribed continuous positive airway pressure therapy, which opens airways and effectively treats sleep apnea and can lower your risk of insulin resistance.

Keeping it Clean: CPAP Hygiene

Keeping it Clean: CPAP Hygiene

Keeping it Clean: CPAP Hygiene

A shower or bath is a great way to start your day. But a refreshing dip and a good hygiene routine is just as important for your CPAP as it is for you.

Proper upkeep of your CPAP machine can help ensure the device functions properly. “It is vitally important to keep everything as clean as possible, as hoses/tubing and masks can be a prime breeding ground for bacteria and mold,” said Phoebe Ochman, director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America.

The thorough cleaning of your CPAP machine can be divided into daily and weekly cleaning, she said.

Daily Cleaning

Get in the habit of wiping down your mask (including areas that come in contact with your skin) using a damp towel with mild detergent and warm water. This will remove any oils, dead skin cells and sweat on the mask that can affect the quality of the seal. Gently rinse with a clean towel and let the mask air-dry.

You can also use pre-moistened towels designed specifically for cleaning CPAP masks, which are available at many sleep centers.

If your unit has a humidifier, empty any leftover water instead of letting in sit in the unit all day. Refill the humidifier with clean, distilled water right before bedtime for optimal use, Ochman said.

If you’ve been sick, it’s smart to wash your mask, tubing, humidifier and filter daily until your cold, flu or virus symptoms are gone. That can help reduce the amount of time you spend under the weather.

Weekly Cleaning

Your mask and tubing need a full bath once a week to keep it free of dust, bacteria and germs.

Clean the CPAP tubing, nasal mask and headgear in a bathroom sink filled with warm water and a few drops of ammonia-free, mild dish detergent. “Swirl all parts around for about five minutes, rinse well and let air dry during the day,” Ochman said. Hang the tubing over the shower rod, on a towel rack or in the laundry room to ensure all the water drips out.

The mask and headgear can be air-dried on a towel or hung on a hook or hanger.

“You should also wipe down your CPAP machine with a damp cloth,” Ochman noted. The towel shouldn’t be too damp or wet, as water could get into the machine.

Clean the filter by removing it and rinsing it in warm tap water. “Squeeze it under the water and squeeze to make sure there is no dust. Then blot down the filter with a towel,” she said.

But don’t wash your machine’s white filter, if one is present—those are disposable and should be replaced once a month, Ochman said. “Just like your house filters, if the white filter is dirty, it should be replaced sooner than once a month.”

If your CPAP has a humidifier, that also needs to be cleaned weekly.

Empty any remaining water and then wash the water chamber in the sink with warm soapy water. Rinse well and drain out as much of the water as possible. Let the chamber air-dry before placing it back into the CPAP unit.

“Every other week you should disinfect the humidifier,” Ochman said. Do that by soaking it in a solution of one part vinegar to five parts water for 30 minutes, thoroughly rinsing and then placing in your dishwasher’s top rack for washing. And keep it clean by using only distilled water to prevent mineral deposits that can build up and cause damage to your machine.

With a little upkeep, your CPAP can continue to help you breathe better for a long time. Just a few minutes a day can help keep your CPAP running efficiently for years to come.