Monthly Archives: March 2015

Be Aware of the Silent Killer

man-insomnia-respshopThe quiet disease kills loved ones every day.  Many individuals are unaware of the silent killer also known as sleep apnea which affects 1 in 15 individuals throughout the nation.  Sleep apnea causes individuals to stop breathing several times throughout the night.  Over 38,000 people die each year from cardiovascular problems tied back to sleep apnea.  This means the silent sleep disorder kills 104 people each day.  This is a tragedy that must be addressed by educating the public on the disorder and the therapies available to help those with the disorder.

Sleep disorders affect me personally in several ways.  First, I am an African American male and we as a population have an increased risk for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.  In addition, my father and grandparents have had friends die in their sleep from this disorder.  Finally, I have seen the issues sleep apnea has caused my dad and am glad he received help to be alive today.

My dad decided to go straight into the Army out of high school.  He deployed several times and fought for our freedom in multiple wars.  He was a tough soldier so he never thought twice about the sleep issues he had when he retired.  He spent many sleepness nights and chalked it up to his military days and being a night owl.  He also fell asleep all the time in any location which he tied to his military time of having to be able to sleep anytime you had a chance. However, he didn’t know a sleep disorder was killing him sliently.

This may seem like a minor issue to some, but it means everything to me as my dad is my world.  While living with my mom, I was diagnosed with Autism and she put me in special education classes.  My mom sent me to visit my dad while I was in the fifth grade and she didn’t really want to help me so she never came back to get me from my dad’s.  My dad was my savior as he helped me get into regular classes and become a great athlete.  Today I am a senior in high school in Honors classes with seven varsity letters and accepted to six colleges so far.  Without my dad I would be nothing and I cannot afford for this silent killer to win.

Over the past three years, he struggled more with his lack of sleep during the night and additional sleep during inopportune times.  I was very worried about him and his health as many times he would still be awake when I would be getting up for school.  If he was asleep in the morning,  I would check on him first thing in the morning to make sure he was breathing.  I was scared to death that I would find him one morning not breathing.  In addition, he fell asleep at weird times such as my wrestling meets.

Luckily, he went through several sleep tests and was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  This meant he stopped breathing during the night not ever achieving a deep sleep.   In addition, he would fall asleep at random times throughout the day.  He finally worked with the Veteran’s Hospital to receive treatment and it was decided he needed to use a CPAP machine.  This helps ensure he breathes correctly at night and stays healthy.

My dad has seen me wrestle my senior year…

My dad will see me graduate…

My dad will see me enter college…

All of these events are possible because my dad received CPAP therapy to help with his sleep disorder.  Every year, several loved ones across the United States die because they do not receive help for their sleep disorders.  My story is different and I am thankful for that.


My Mother’s Sleep Apnea

Tired young businesswoman falling asleep behind the deskToday, Kelley C. shares the story of her mother’s sleep apnea. We were touched by this inspiring experience, and Kelley earned one of our six scholarship awards. We hope you enjoy and appreciate it as much as we did. 

My father and I used to laugh when my mother started snoring a few years ago. Her snoring was so loud, you could hear it in the other end of the house. Sometimes she would doze off in the living room while reading or watching TV, and she would snort and snore in her sleep. My friends and I would giggle and even record her on video. We all got a big laugh out of it.

But my mother’s snoring grew worse. It was often so bad, that my father had to sleep on the living room couch because of the racket she made. Her snoring would wake me as well, even though I was a room away behind a closed door. Then my father began to notice that my mother would stop breathing on and off during the night—sometimes for a full minute or more. He would wake her up, she would go back to sleep, and the cycle would repeat—snoring, no breathing, snoring.

In spite of the sleep she got, my mother was always tired, irritable, and she could not concentrate or function efficiently. She had trouble remembering things, she nodded off at work, and her memory became terrible. One day, while driving me to school, my mother nearly ran a read light; I screamed, she stopped in time, and then she began to cry. This was getting serious. Her snoring wasn’t funny at all any more.

My mother finally went to the doctor, who prescribed an exam at a sleep disorder facility. She was connected to a CPAP machine that, whenever her breathing stopped, would gently force oxygen into her through a breathing mask worn over her mouth. Her sleep and breathing were monitored throughout the night by a medical technician. The next day, she was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.

My father and I did not realize that sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can
result in sleep deprivation, depression, contribute toward the advance of
diabetes, and even cause stroke in extreme cases. Now, she has a CPAP machine that allows her to receive enough oxygen when she sleeps at night. Her physical and mental conditions have improved 100% thanks to this device. I would have never thought a simple symptom like snoring would indicate such a potential threat. My dad and I are grateful that my mother addressed her sleep apnea before it became worse, and we are grateful for the CPAP machine.

I had never heard of sleep apnea before my mother’s condition was diagnosed. I talk to people about this when the subject of sleeplessness comes up. More people should be made aware of this potentially dangerous disorder, and I make a point to spread the word about it. Additionally, I hope to help others from suffering from sleep apnea by sharing my mother’s experience, and how early detection and treatment are crucial.

Introducing the Pico Nasal CPAP Mask

Pico-RespShop-BlogAlong with ResMed, Phillips Respironics is one of the top two manufacturers of continuous positive airway pressure equipment in the world. They make a line of comfortable and ergonomic masks along with arguably the most popular machine on the market. One of the few areas the company has noticeably lagged behind ResMed, however, was in the lightweight mask department. With ResMed’s release of the AirFit series this past summer, the Australian giant owned the world’s lightest nasal CPAP mask.

All that has changed with Respironics’ release of the Pico.

Respironics boasts that the Pico is the lightest mask on the market, and while the degree to which that is true depends on the size of the mask in question, there’s no doubt that it’s one of the least obtrusive designs money can buy. The Pico comes with an inflatable silicone cushion and the typical crown-shaped headgear design that Respironics has successfully used for decades. The cushions inflate as you breathe, which creates the durable seal that allows the Pico to work: not only is there no reason to try to latch the mask down, but over-tightening will actually harm the quality of your seal.

Users should also know that the small plastic strip connecting the cushion to the headgear will not block their line of vision. The strip is composed of a see-through plastic material and is thin enough to largely escape your peripheral vision. If you like watching television or reading with your CPAP mask on, you won’t have to make an adjustment to your routine with the Pico.

Respironics also uses a comfortable fabric for the headgear. Non-abrasive and easy to use, the Velcro straps allow you to connect and un-strap your mask quickly and easily, which is ideal for patients who wake up at night. Furthermore, the fabric itself is soft and won’t rub uncomfortably against your facial skin.

Pico-Sizing-GuideThe Pico comes with three different cushion sizes. The most popular cushion is the small/medium hybrid, which should fit most facial sizes and shapes. Respironics also produces a large and an extra-large cushion for the Pico, for sleep apnea patients with larger heads. For those who don’t know what size of mask they should wear, you have two options. First, you can check the sizing guide we’ve posted on the left, which can be printed to reliably show how the mask matches with your face. Second, you can select the ‘fitpack’ option, which allows you to purchase all three cushions for the same price as one! There’s literally no reason not to take that option.

Ultimately, when it comes to performance, functionality, durability, ergonomic-ness, capability, unabashedness, and living up to the hype, there’s few better investments in the CPAP world than with the Pico Nasal Mask. The bottom line is that this mask delivers: delivers oxygen in a comfortable and hygienic manner. The lightweight frame is easy to use and it won’t get you down after a tough day. If you’re in the market for a new mask, be sure to give the Pico a look today!

More CPAP Tips

Depositphotos_7814223_sAt RespShop, we like to give our customers CPAP tips and tricks of the trade as we get them. We get plenty of feedback from patients and CPAP experts and we’re confident that all of the information we glean can be passed along to help you with your therapy. If you use continuous positive airway pressure equipment, read on for a few ways that you can improve your therapeutic experience.

  1. Use Plenty of Humidification

Each humidifier offers you several heating options, allowing you to select just how much or little humidity you want. Our CPAP expert, Todd Ramsey RRT, recommends that you use as much humidity as possible. From a medical standpoint, “there’s no such thing as too much humidity,” Ramsey explains. “Humidity is very comfortable on the sinuses.”

Beyond the comfort factor, humidity can also help with a new user’s compliance. Because the humidifier will help users relax, it allows them to close their mouth easily and makes them less likely to yank their mask off in the middle of the night. It also allows patients to use a nasal mask instead of a full face design, which most users find preferable. Don’t forget that humidification also helps ward off some of the least desirable side effects of CPAP therapy, including dry mouth and a sore throat.

  1. Control Rainout

Humidifiers are great, but they can cause one problem for CPAP users: rainout. Rainout occurs when moisture from the humidifier collects in your breathing tube. Eventually, this water will force its way into your mask wake you up. To mitigate the effects of rainout, all you have to do is warm the tube. You can do this either by using a heated breathing tube – most standard tubes are made from corrugated plastic that should not be heated – or by putting a blanket over your tube. Either method will warm the tube and prevent condensation.

  1. Batteries with Travel Machines

CPAP batteries allow you to get on the road without having to worry about your sleep apnea. Batteries attach seamlessly to CPAP machines and can provide a whole night of therapy after charging for just a few hours. This is true for travel machines as well: these devices are designed specifically for the patient on the go, and as long as you charge them ahead of time, should provide you with hours of therapy while you’re away from home.

Keep in mind, you will need to have a power source for your batteries eventually. This might be the car, or it might be some other adapter. If you’re traveling internationally, be sure that your adapter is compatible with the wall outlets in the country you’re visiting.

  1. Keep Everything Clean

This one should be self-explanatory, but Ramsey says he’s seen more than his fair share of disgusting CPAP equipment. “I can hardly overemphasize the need to keep (your equipment) clean. It’s just so dirty out there.” This doesn’t only apply to obvious things like the water chamber or your breathing tube, but also to your mask and filters. Filters should be changed at the first sign of discoloration for optimal hygiene, and your mask should be washed daily. Ramsey notes that many users balk at having to clean their mask every day, but he offers these patients a simple suggestion: the shower. “All you really need is soap and water,” he says. “Just bring it into the shower and scrub it down. Quick and easy without any wasted time.”