Monthly Archives: September 2014

Sleep Apnea and Surgery

rp_respironics-comfortgel-blue-cpap-mask.JPGWe’ve talked a lot about the importance of CPAP – continuous positive airway pressure – therapy for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that needs to be treated on its own merits for both your safety and for the people around you, for many reasons. One of those reasons may surprise you: surgery.

A new study has found a surprising link between sleep apnea and post-surgery complications. In a study conducted by Dr. Thomas Mutter of the University of Manitoba, 4,200 patients with sleep apnea were monitored before and after they had surgery. The participants were blocked into two groups, one that received CPAP treatment and one that did not.

The study found that the patients with untreated sleep apnea were twice as likely to suffer from cardiovascular complications, including cardiac arrest and shock after surgery than the group who received sleep apnea therapy. Those prescribed a CPAP had much lower incidents of cardiovascular disturbances, an auxiliary benefit for patients who already receive a bevy of benefits from their device.

Dr. Mutter had no doubts about the conclusions of the study: “OSA is a common disorder that affects millions,” he said. “(It) is associated with increased risk of surgical complications.”

There were some limitations to the study, however. The study didn’t find any direct cause-and-effect relationship between sleep apnea and post-surgical complications, as a number of patients who didn’t receive treatment experienced no complications. Additionally, both groups of patients were at an increased risk of surgery-related respiratory complications, whether they used a CPAP or not.

Still, the findings suggest that for patients who are having surgery, it’s much better to be receiving CPAP treatment for the condition. Patients who are unsure about whether or not they have sleep apnea should do a bit of self-assessment.

If you find yourself tired or fatigued throughout the day, or if it seems that you just can’t get a good night’s rest, you may have a sleep disorder. While further tests will be needed to conclusively determine whether you have sleep apnea or are simply sleeping poorly, you should consider consulting a medical professional if you regularly experience a number of the following symptoms: daytime fatigue, insomnia, poor concentration, memory problems, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty performing work or school tasks.

If this sounds like you, be sure to visit a doctor. From there, they will either send you to a sleep professional or offer you the opportunity to take a home sleep test to determine whether or not you have a sleep condition.

Ultimately, sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can cause a number of health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular complications following surgery. If you have sleep apnea, be sure to do all that you can to mitigate the condition’s adverse effects.

Using a CPAP for Sleep Apnea

ResMed AirSense 10 CPAPIf you’ve recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment might look intimidating. The machines are big, the masks look cumbersome, and there are so many different brands of equipment. You may have questions like ‘which is right for me?’ or ‘why would I need a humidifier?’

Over time, you’ll be able to answer these questions yourself and will develop an understanding for what you need for your sleep apnea therapy. Initially, CPAP therapy may be tricky. Like anything else though, your body will adjust to the treatment you’re giving to it, and once everything falls into place, you’ll feel a lot better. To help you get from Point A to Point B, we’ve written up a little primer on everything you’ll need to know about CPAP as you get started.

The CPAP Machines

So you’ve taken the sleep tests, been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and now it’s time to find the right CPAP equipment for you. It can be tough to tell the difference between machines and masks, so to start with, we’re going to break these items down by category. There are subtle differences in machines within their respective category, but we’ll get into those details more a bit later.

Broadly speaking, there are two different kinds of CPAP machines: fixed pressure devices and automatically adjusting machines. Fixed pressure machines are what they sound like. They direct air pressure from the machine through the tube and into your mask at a constant level of pressure throughout the night. The only way to adjust the rate of pressure is to do it yourself: the machine will only operate at the pressure you set.

Nominally these are the more ‘basic’ of the two types of machines, as the automatically adjusting devices offer more features (and are more expensive). For many patients though, fixed pressure machines work just fine, and many of these devices feature most of the settings and customization packages that auto machines incorporate. Examples of good manual machines include the AirSense CPAP, the S9 Elite, and the XT Prime.

ResMed S9 Autoset

Be sure to replace filters in your CPAP machine often

The automatically adjusting machines feature an enhanced algorithm package that adjusts the rate of pressure depending on environmental factors and your recent respiration cycles. If, for example, the machine detects that you are in the midst of an apnea, the machine will automatically raise the rate of pressure until the apnea is over: this is done to open your oxygen passageways wider so that you can get air as quickly as possible. Once the irregular breathing episode is over, the machine will return to your prescribed pressure for the duration of the night (or until you have another apnea).

The primary advantage of automatically adjusting machines is that they are capable of ending apneas sooner than fixed pressure models. These are ideal for patients who experience apneas often throughout the night. Popular auto machines at RespShop include the DS560 from Phillips Respironics, the S9 AutoSet from ResMed, as well as ResMed’s AutoSet For Her, the first CPAP machine designed specifically for women.

For patients with central sleep apnea – as opposed to the far more common obstructive sleep apnea – you’ll need a bi-level machine, of which we carry several. Be careful though: CPAP machines and VPAP/BiPAP devices serve entirely different purposes and should NEVER be used interchangeably.

The Masks

Once you’ve found your CPAP machine, it’s time to pick out a mask. Like with machines, there are different types of masks that offer different features and drawbacks. The three types are nasal masks, full face masks, and nasal pillow masks. Each type offers something to users, and patients can find plenty of comfortable and intuitive masks in each category. Let’s talk a little bit about the differences in these categories.

rp_resmed-activa-LT-nasal-cpap-mask.jpgThe most popular mask is a nasal mask. These feature a cushion that wraps around your nose and nasal bridge, sealing the airway into your nares. These masks are easy to seal and rarely come with headgear that obstructs your vision or touches your face too excessively. Most of these masks are very light and allow you to sleep on your side or on your back. In general, we don’t recommend nasal masks for patients who like to sleep on their chests or for patients with facial hair, as mustaches can impair the quality of your seal. (The seal is vital for proper CPAP therapy: without a quality seal, air from the machine will leak out of the mask and you won’t see any of the benefits from CPAP therapy.)

Nasal pillow masks are popular for similar reasons. They are the least obtrusive of the three masks, as the headgear tends to be light and it doesn’t often attach to any parts of your face. The nasal pillow cushion is intended to rest gently on the inside of your nostrils, helping air flow directly into your nasal passageway. Users who toss and turn may not like nasal masks however: they are very light and are easier to disturb and unbalance than full face or nasal masks. Some patients with facial air also dislike the nasal pillow mask, as thick mustache hairs can again impair the mask’s ability to seal.

The full face mask is larger than the nasal and nasal pillow masks. These masks are intended to press gently against your nasal bridge, under your chin, and along your cheeks. Some patients dislike these because of the many facial contact points, but others like them because they are a little harder to dislodge at night and they work well for patients with facial hair. None of these categories are intrinsically better than any other: it’s all about finding what works best for you and your facial structure.

What About the Other Stuff?

There are many supplies that come with CPAP machines and masks, and for new patients, it’s hard to know exactly what you need. To simplify things a little bit, we’re going to break down some of the more important accessories and supplies that CPAP customers prefer to use during their therapy.

Many patients like to use a humidifier with their CPAP machine. Humidifiers work by warming the air from the machine, allowing you to breathe air at a slightly elevated temperature. Users who experience dry mouth or dry throat after using their CPAP tend to like the humidifier, which largely works to prevent these symptoms. Many patients also feel that the humidified air is relaxing, allowing them to fall asleep easier. Most machines are sold with a humidifier, and maintenance and care of the humidifier is simple. You can also use a heated tube with your machine to ensure that the warmed air stays at a constant temperature.

Filters and cushions are two vital accessories that come with your machine and mask respectively. The filter helps to catch debris floating near your machine, which helps prevent you from breathing in any dust or floating particles in your bedroom. Filters need periodic replacement, but if you take care of them, they should last you several months.

Cushions attach to your mask: they help keep your seal and are the comfortable attachment point between the machine and the mask. Over time, cushions lose their spring, and old cushions won’t seal as well as new ones. Like with filters, you’ll periodically need to replace your cushions to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your therapy. Regular cleaning should allow you to use your cushions for a couple of months, but you’ll want to replace them before they sag too much or become saturated by bacteria.

Many patients also like to use a chinstrap. The chinstrap, when used with a full face mask, helps keep the mask in place and also helps to prevent patients – particularly those new to CPAP therapy – from pulling off their mask in the midst of the night (it happens surprisingly frequently.) Some patients also find that the strap itself is comfortable.

rp_CPAP-Moisture-Therapy.jpgThese are just some of the supplies and accessories that you can use to get the most out of your sleep apnea therapy. There are other products – such as cleaners, replacement parts, and other comfort solutions – that experienced CPAP patients rely on, but for now, this should give you a broad overview of some of the basics of CPAP therapy.

If you have any further questions about this post, CPAP, sleep apnea, or anything else we can help you with at RespShop, please reach out to us. We’re available over the phone at 1-866-936-3754 online at Facebook and Twitter, or over email, [email protected]. Get in touch for help with your sleep apnea therapy today!

Home Sleep Study

At Home Sleep Study Test

Sleep apnea remains woefully undiagnosed in most patients, as an estimated 80 percent of patients are still undiagnosed. Are you struggling to sleep but not sure why? Getting a sleep study done can be uncomfortable for patients in a multitude of ways, whether it’s trying to fall asleep in a foreign environment while being hooked up to an apparatus, or just the cost of having a sleep test done which can run you thousands of dollars, especially for those who are uninsured. Your concerns are our concerns, as failing to get a test done can mean that you remain undiagnosed of sleep apnea. We have written blog posts before on the problems with sleep apnea, and how it can negative impact your everyday life, whether it’s performance at your job or in school, or the long term effects on your overall health. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that can have both long and short term effects on suffering individuals, yet remains undiagnosed and or untreated.ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP

One of the biggest culprits? The sleep study. If you’re like me, you hate sleeping anywhere that isn’t your own comfortable bed. The bed you bought specifically for yourself, the bed that you use every night. I don’t even like sleeping at hotels, and most of the time they have comfortable beds, so spending a night at a sleep center in a room on an uncomfortable bed attached to a bunch of devices? There’s no way I could fall asleep. And that’s the problem, if we can’t fall asleep, how can they actually test us to know if we have sleep apnea? It’s a very serious problem, and I didn’t even go into the cost of getting a test done!

Which is why over the years, the one of the fastest growing parts of the industry is the at home sleep study, an instrument that is delivered to your home for a few hundred dollars (plus a 200 dollar refundable deposit), where you can rest throughout the night in your own bed and environment and get tested for sleep apnea. The at home sleep study will monitor your night, and send the information directly to a sleep center, where your information will be analyzed for sleep apnea. The best part? If you test positive for sleep apnea, a prescription will be written by a physician prescribing you the exact type of machine you’ll need, whether it’s a standard or auto machine for obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA, the most common form), or for a bilevel or VPAP machine for central sleep apnea (or CSA, a very rare form). You’ll be able to get your prescription on the spot, where the information will be sent back to us, and then forwarded onto you.


This prescription icropped-cropped-b01.jpgs good for anywhere too, if you decide you don’t wish to buy your products through us, you can take the prescription from your home sleep study and use it any other vendor. (Although we’ll offer you a discount on all of your purchases!)

If you’re unsure and want to undergo a sleep study, don’t go into an uncomfortable sleep center, take it from the comfort of your home at the lowest prices you’ll find anywhere! If you’re unsure of how the test works, please get in touch with our customer service team, we’ll walk you through the process, and make sure that you’re at peace before going through with the test. You can reach us Monday through Friday from 8 am until 5 pm pacific standard time at 866-936-3754 or via our web chat. For any afterhours customers, use our email at [email protected].

Seattle CPAP Retailer

seattle_kerry_park-respshopWhen it comes time to purchase continuous positive airway pressure equipment, sleep apnea therapy patients have plenty of places where they can find the CPAP machines, masks, and supplies that they need. There are several online retailers that carry a vast selection of products, and for patients living in proximity to even a mid-sized city, a local outlet will usually be able to offer equipment as well. As many patients will attest, there are advantages to both shopping locally and browsing equipment online. For CPAP patients in Seattle, however, RespShop can offer the convenience of both, which is surely the best deal of all.

There are a number of reasons why many CPAP therapy patients prefer to purchase their supplies locally and in person. Local stores offer sizing guides that can help patients pick the right sized mask for them and they can also get a better feel for machines and accessory equipment – like the hose lift, for example – than they might if they’re new buyers purchasing over the internet. Many patients also like talking to CPAP specialists and technicians about their CPAP products in person.

There are also plenty of advantages to shopping for equipment and supplies online. Online retailers, including RespShop, have larger selections of CPAP masks and machines – and accompanying items like filters, headgears, chinstraps, etc. – than you’ll find anywhere in the world, and many online retailers boast a wider range of products than you’ll be able to find in sleep centers or other local carriers of CPAP equipment. We’re also able to offer lower prices than you’ll find if you shop in person.

For sleep apnea therapy patients living in the greater Seattle area, why not experience the best of both worlds?

Seattle CPAP

alki-respLocated in Redmond, Washington, RespShop has been the Pacific Northwest’s trusted online CPAP retailer for more than five years now. Over that time, we’ve helped tens of thousands of patients find the equipment they need to properly treat their sleep apnea therapy. Our knowledgeable sales and information team has reliably answered patients’ questions, and can help you set up your ramp, find the quietest CPAP machine, or pick the right mask for you and your budget. We’ve helped plenty of customers find what they were looking for when they dropped by, and we are also able to help with something else: saving money.

The primary advantage online retailers have over local outlets is that we’re able to offer the best prices on CPAP equipment. We have contracts with all of the major CPAP manufacturers – including ResMed, Phillips Respironics, DeVilbiss, Fisher & Paykel, APEX, Somnetics, and more – and because we buy in bulk, we get the best deals from manufacturers. These savings are then passed on to our customers! If you want the lowest prices from the best manufacturers, there’s no better place to buy in person than RespShop.

Of course, if you’re near Seattle, you can still get all of the in person help you’ll ever need without having to pay more for your equipment. Our office staff is trained to help customers find what they need at our office location in Redmond, and they enjoy actively helping patients treat their sleep apnea. From what we’ve noticed, our customers enjoy it too.

Take Fred as an example. Fred is a longtime CPAP user, and one day, he found one of our online listings and drove over to Redmond to buy a new CPAP mask. In the past, Fred had had some trouble getting the most out of his sleep apnea therapy. While using a CPAP had helped him feel more alert, he still thought that he wasn’t quite getting the results he needed.

When Fred came in, our sales team noticed that he sported a thick mustache. They asked what kind of mask Fred used, and he said nasal. Knowing that nasal masks are often ineffective for patients with mustaches – thick facial hair disrupts the seal above the upper lip, which significantly reduces air pressure – our team recommended a nasal pillow mask instead. The pillows rest on the nares and they are not impacted by facial hair. Following the advice of the service team, Fred purchased the AirFit P10 Nasal Pillows mask. The team helped him try it on, showed him how to optimally place it, and got him the right size. An appreciative Fred left happily and later sent us an email thanking the team for their assistance. Given how well our first interaction went, we’re confident that Fred will feel comfortable letting us help him with everything CPAP going forward.

RedmondWe hope that we can have similarly positive interactions with a number of other local customers. We know that CPAP therapy can be intimidating, especially at first. We have experience talking to new patients, who are not only worried about finding the right product, but also finding the best option for their budget. We can help you work through any initial fears, and we’ll never push a customer to buy anything.

With all of that in mind, we hope to see you in our office! We’re located at 17251 NE 67th Court in Redmond, WA, near the Whole Foods just off of Redmond Way. If you have a quick question about our location, or anything else CPAP related you can also reach out to us online or over the phone. We’re on social media at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+, on chat at our website, over the phone at 1-866-936-3754 and can also be contacted by email at [email protected]. Don’t hesitate to get in touch for help with your sleep apnea therapy today!


ResMed S9 or AirSense?

resmed-airsense-10-autoset-cpap-respshopResMed is one of the top manufacturers of CPAP equipment on the market. For years, they’ve produced innovative machines, and with their S9 series and new AirSense brand, they have two of the most popular lines available. The S9’s and the AirSenses appear similar at first blush – both are compatible with heated tubes and EPR and each features advanced event detection software – but a deeper look reveals some substantial differences. Let’s take a look at each, and you can decide which one is right for you.

Let’s start with the S9, which consists of three machines: the S9 AutoSet, the S9 Elite, and the S9 Escape. Technically, there is an AutoSet for her in the S9 series as well, but the machine performs identically to the regular AutoSet and the only difference between the machines is aesthetic, as the For Her is painted pink. As the name implies, the AutoSet is an auto CPAP, while the Escape and the Elite are manual models.

Each S9 machine offers EPR and event detection software that help identify apneas as soon as they develop: these features trigger the machines to adjust pressure to stop the apnea and return your respiration to normal. The Elite offers a few more detection algorithms than the Escape, but otherwise the machines work similarly.

The AirSense line boasts several features that help distinguish the new series from older machines. First, ResMed overhauled the AirSense For Her entirely. ResMed customized the machine to include a distinct algorithm to directly targets apneas in women: the algorithm responds to respiratory disturbances sooner than other machines by increasing pressure immediately when the machine detects an unnatural breathing episode.

Each AirSense machine also has a revamped data management and storage system, called AirView. With AirView, patients can upload their sleep apnea statistics and information onto the cloud directly from their AirSense machine. This allows anyone to instantly send statistics and settings to their doctor or CPAP technician and receive help and advice promptly. It doesn’t require additional effort from patients; all they have to do is take their device out of airplane mode, and their information will automatically be stored! For patients who do not wish to record their information, leaving the machine in airplane mode will disable it from saving data.

FEB8254CE4F6BB6B4B439CFFD9F64EFFEF57D966-swipeEach AirSense is also compatible with the new ClimateLineAir heated breathing tube, which helps people get the most out of their humidifier: by relaying warm air to the mouth, the ClimateLineAir helps to keep symptoms like rainout and nasal congestion to a minimum.

If you have any further questions about the discrepancies between the latest ResMed lines, or any other CPAP related queries, please drop us a line. We’re on social media at Facebook and Twitter, as well as over the phone at 1-866-937-3754. You can also email us at [email protected]. Get in touch for help with your sleep apnea today!