Monthly Archives: May 2015

Five Comfortable Nasal CPAP Masks

respironics-wisp-cpap-nasal-maskAt RespShop, we encourage most of our patients to wear nasal CPAP masks if possible. We understand that some people prefer the lightweight design of the nasal pillow, and we know that patients with mustaches or problems breathing through their nose need a full face mask. For everybody else, we believe that the nasal is the most comfortable mask and that the design is optimal for successful therapy and compliance with CPAP.

For that reason, when we help patients choose the right CPAP mask for them, we usually start with the nasals. That’s what we’re going to do today, too, as we preview some of the best nasal CPAP masks on the market. Not every one of these is a perfect fit for you: you’ll need to take some to identify what you want in a mask before you choose one, but each of these designs offers its share of perks and benefits for somebody. Check out the five most comfortable nasal masks below:

1. ResMed AirFit N10 Nasal Mask

The AirFit N10 is tied for the lightest nasal mask on the market (with the second mask on this list) and that’s only part of what makes it ideal for patients. The N10 also features a soft, silicone cushion that won’t rub uncomfortably against your face, and you won’t even notice the mask’s easily adjustable fabric straps. You can connect and unconnect the mask with easily applicable magnetic clips, perfect for CPAP users who get up to use the bathroom at night. Additionally, ResMed makes an N10 for her for patients with smaller facial structures and head sizes.

2. Respironics Pico Nasal Mask

The Pico weighs less than two ounces and makes up the other half of the CPAP industry’s pair of lightweight nasal masks. Respironics built the Pico with minimalism in mind: there aren’t any flashy bells and whistles, just a comfortable silicone cushion, soft fabric headgear, and a small forehead pad for stability.

3. ResMed Mirage FX Nasal Mask

The Mirage FX is one of the most stable designs in the CPAP world. The mask’s large forehead pad balances the crown-shaped headgear and robust cushion design, and the pad is located high enough that it won’t block your field of vision if you’re trying to watch television or read a book. The mask has four adjustment points, perfect for creating a personalized fit. The dual-walled silicone-based cushion forms to your face as you wear it over time, enhancing the mask’s customization.

4. Respironics Wisp Nasal Mask

The Wisp (pictured above) boasts a unique construction. Unlike most crown-shaped headgear straps, the Wisp’s headgear straps are solid and it uses a butterfly pattern that properly balances the mask. The mask also has a flexible swivel and, without a forehead pad, offers users a wide open field of visibility.

5. APEX WiZARD 210 Nasal Mask

The WiZARD mask offers all of the features you’d expect in a comfortable nasal mask: it has an ergonomic silicone cushion, effective and adjustable straps, and it comes in three sizes. Critically, the WiZARD comes free with any purchase of an APEX XT travel CPAP machine. If you’re interested in this offer, you can take a look at our line of APEX machines here.

CPAP and Sleep Apnea Mailbag, Part II

rp_transcend-travel-cpap-ii.jpgWe’re back with the second edition of the RespShop CPAP therapy and sleep apnea mailbag. Our first post in the series was such a hit that we’ve decided to do these bi-weekly — and possibly a little more often than that if they prove popular enough. We received some great questions this week, the answers of which you’ll find below. Remember, if you want to have your question answered in the mailbag, just submit it to [email protected], and put ‘mailbag’ in the subject line. Let’s dive in!

Question 1: What is the functional difference between an auto machine and any other device? – Brett, Norfolk, VA

Great question Brett. The big difference between auto machines and traditional CPAP devices is all about the pressure. A normal CPAP — also called a fixed pressure machine — operates at one pressure level only. You turn on your machine, and it will pump pressure at the prescribed setting all night long (though using the ramp feature can delay the onset of pressure when you first fall asleep). Auto machines will adjust pressure depending on your needs throughout the night: it will operate at the lowest pressure possible until it detects the onset of an apnea, at which point it will quickly increase pressure to your prescribed level, until the apnea is taken care of. Many patients, particularly new CPAP users, find that the auto’s reduced pressure capabilities are a helpful comfort feature.

Question 2: What is a hypoallergenic filter? – Sandra, Guadalajara, Mexico

A hypoallergenic filter is just a more durable type of disposable filter. Most disposable filters are thin and only have one layer and level of protection: the hypoallergenic filter has two, which enables to last about twice as long as a typical filter. Like with any filter, it should still be disposed of once it shows visible signs of discoloration. These are not washable and at this point, they are only compatible with ResMed machines. Hope that helps!

Question 3: Can you tell me whether I can take my CPAP on an airplane? – Boone, Boone, WV

Not only can you take it on the plane, but you should carry it with you! Federal regulations allow you to carry medical equipment on a plane without it counting against your limit of carry on items. Due to the turbulent nature of planes, and the less than fragile method of bag packing and unloading you’ll find among airport staffers, we strongly encourage you to protect your equipment and bring it in the cabin with you.

Question 4: I hear that nasal masks are the most recommended type of mask, but I can’t breathe out of my nose at night. Should I still use one? – Rhonel, Baltimore, MD

Fantastic question Rhonel. If you truly cannot breathe out of your nose at night, you’ll need to use a full face CPAP mask to derive any benefit from therapy. However, most new CPAP patients only discover that they can breathe through their nose at night once they start using CPAP. If you took a sleep test, ask your sleep physician about your nasal breathing capability: if you can breathe through your nose, I’d recommend using a nasal mask. If not, or if you’re uncomfortable leaving that to chance, the full face mask will work splendidly as well.

Question 5: Does RespShop offer a scholarship to college students? – Lisa, Elmwood, NE

We sure do! For high school seniors and college graduate and undergraduate students, we offer five scholarships: you can read more about our scholarship criteria here.

Celebrities with CPAP

Most people aren’t real happy when they first start using a CPAP. Plenty of patients get their first machine and wonder why they have to use the noisy contraption, and why they need to wear a mask that makes them look like Darth Vader. Even worse, CPAP therapy can actually lead people to think poorly of their body, believing that CPAP is primarily for old and overweight people.

The point is that CPAP therapy, on the outside, looks weird. The mask looks funny, the tubes are long and cumbersome looking, and the idea of having air blowing into your face all night isn’t particularly appetizing. All in all, it’s enough to make plenty of people feel weird and oddly separated from the rest of the population if they have to use a CPAP. Some are even embarrassed by CPAP.

You shouldn’t be.

There are plenty of people who wear a CPAP mask nightly — over ten percent of the population has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and the mildness of the symptoms and relatively recent discovery of the disease likely means that it’s severely under-diagnosed — so you’re certainly not alone. You probably have a neighbor, relative, or friend who uses CPAP, and you just don’t know yet. You  might also be surprised to learn that there are plenty of celebrities who wear a CPAP mask every night. Below, we’ve listed five of the most famous.

1. Rosie O’Donnell

The comedian and actress has used a CPAP for nearly a decade now, after suffering a heart attack in 2007. In her sleep study, she discovered that she suffered more than 200 apneas in a single night, making hers a particularly severe case of sleep apnea.

2. Regis Philbin

I can’t be the only one who grew up watching Regis Philbin on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ Little did we know that the show’s popular star felt like significantly less than a million bucks when he woke up in the morning, thanks to his undiagnosed sleep apnea. He took a sleep test in 2009 and now uses CPAP every night.

3. Shaquille O’Neal

While most people don’t think of ‘athlete’ when they hear ‘sleep apnea’ there are plenty of people from the sports world who suffer from sleep apnea. Shaq might be the most famous, but his place on the list goes to show that a large frame and a big neck are two leading indicators for sleep apnea, and that plenty of the world’s fittest people may need a CPAP to sleep properly.

4. Randy Jackson

One of the hosts of American Idol, Jackson also has diabetes in addition to sleep apnea. This is not uncommon: Type-II diabetes is strongly correlated with sleep apnea. If untreated, sleep apnea detrimentally affects the body’s ability to regulate sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes and obesity over time.

5. William Shatner

Best known for his role in Star Trek, Shatner also has obstructive sleep apnea. Everyone’s favorite every-man relies on his CPAP to sleep effectively every night.

We hope you enjoyed our list of celebrities who use a CPAP. It’s just another friendly reminder that you aren’t alone.

CPAP and Sleep Apnea Mailbag

Pico-RespShop-BlogAt RespShop we get a lot of questions about sleep apnea, and sleep apnea therapy. We understand that there plenty of people — both diagnosed and undiagnosed — who want to know about the condition and learn how to improve their therapeutic performance. We get a lot of similar questions, and so to provide common answers that can help everybody, we’ve decided to start a semi-regular feature on the blog: the CPAP and sleep apnea mailbag.

Each Monday, we’ll look into the mailbag and pull out five of the best questions we’ve received over the past week. If you want to have your question answered in the mailbag, please email us at [email protected] with an email titled ‘Mailbag.’ If you want your query to be fielded more expediently, you can always reach out to our customer service team online or over the phone. With that preamble out of the way, let’s head to the mailbag!

A heated tube

A heated tube

Question 1: I like using my humidifier, but I keep waking up with water in my hose and sometimes I feel like it’s going to choke me. Is there a way to stop this? – Steve, Anniston, AL

Great question Steve. What you are describing is called rainout, and it happens when the warm air from the hose meets the cold temperature of your bedroom, initiating condensation in the tube. This is where the water comes from. Fortunately, there are two ways of handling this. The quick and easy method is to put your hose under the covers: this keeps the tube warm, and prevents condensation from building up. If you have a newer machine, you can also purchase a heated tube, which will ferry the warm air into your mask and will completely eliminate rainout.

Question 2: My daughter told me I needed a prescription to get a CPAP mask, but I thought I didn’t have to. Is she right? – Barbara, Ypsilanti, MI

Hi Barbara: no, you do not need a prescription if you buy through a component mask program. You do not need a prescription to purchase a frame, headgear, or cushion, so if you purchase all three separately, you can get a new mask without a prescription.

At RespShop, we have a component mask program that we call ‘No Prescription, No Problem,’ and we invite you to check it out here to learn more.

Question 3: Why do I need to replace my cushions? – Humberto, Miami, FL

Humberto, the reason you need to change your cushions is that the silicone or gel material that it’s composed of will gradually deteriorate over time. What’s happening is a slow deflation: as the cushion becomes less robust, you’ll notice that it doesn’t seal as effectively, and once the seal is compromised, your therapy will be less effective.

If you want to extend the life of your mask, regular cleaning and maintenance will go a long way toward keeping it in tip-top shape. You won’t be able to use the same cushion forever, but if you take care of it, it might last close to the end of the typical 3-9 month replacement schedule spectrum we recommend for replacements.

Even professional athletes like Mike Napoli have sleep apnea.

Even professional athletes like Mike Napoli have sleep apnea.

Question 4: My doctor says I have CSA, which is different than the sleep apnea I read about and thought I had. I thought I would need a CPAP machine, but I need some other kind of device. Can you help? – Byron, Frederick, MD

Byron, you’ve come to the right place. CSA stands for central sleep apnea, so technically, you do have sleep apnea: you just have the less common form of the condition. Patients with CSA experience apneas — the pauses in breathing you have at night — differently than those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and are treated differently. You’ll need some kind of bi-level machine to treat your sleep apnea. Your prescription should tell you whether you need an ASV, an ST, or some kind of other machine. If you need any help, please get in touch with our customer service department.

Question 5: What does CPAP stand for? – Sierra, Bellevue, WA

We’ll end on a quick one today: you’d be surprised at how often we hear this question! CPAP stands for ‘continuous positive airway pressure,’ which works as a pretty accurate descriptor of what CPAP therapy is. If you’re interested in learning more about sleep apnea and CPAP, we encourage you to take a look at our education center!

That’s it for the mailbag this week. Don’t forget, you can also find us on Twitter at @RespShop or on Facebook!

From Out of Breath to Full of Life

Gary R. was our scholarship winner. This is his essay “From Out of Breath to Full of Life.”

About a year and two months ago during the winter of 2013, my family received heartbreaking news that my father’s health and essentially his time to live was decreasing with each passing day and breath he took.  After battling many occasions of shortness of breath for about the past ten years, whether it was a result of hiking while on vacation or walking up a single flight of stairs, we all knew that something was wrong with his health.  My father lives a healthy lifestyle and as an ex-firefighter, it was difficult to imagine that this extreme shortness of breath was a result of purely being unfit.  After many continued years of struggling with this condition and having it misdiagnosed as asthma, an inhaler was prescribed to him but had no positive effect on his health and well-being.  Finally, in November of 2013, my father was accurately diagnosed with severe pulmonary arterial hypertension.

I remember exactly where I was standing at college on the November day when I got the vague but worrisome text message to call home about my father’s health.   My parents explained the condition and stated that obstructive sleep apnea may be a significant factor in contributing to his pulmonary hypertension disease.  Still in somewhat of a state of shock and feeling of helplessness, my father explained that he was to immediately begin using oxygen therapy at night through the aid of a CPAP machine complemented by other oral and inhaled medications.  My father’s response to the CPAP machine and medication was not immediately observable with respect to the lab test results, but his well-being and everyday outlook increased significantly.  Pinpointing exactly what was responsible for this shortage of breath and lack of energy while knowing there are devices which can improve the quality of his life was an inspiring and encouraging  step towards recovery.

Several months passed and my father began to see significant increases but this time both in well-being alongside the lab results.  The CPAP machine considerably helped him overcome his sleep apnea and was extremely effective in reenergizing him and helping him live a normal life.  With his blood pressure decreased to healthy levels and long lost energy finally restored from him being able sleeping well, it appeared as though my father had almost aged in reverse.  He gained the ability to live those parts of his life which had escaped him while the disease hovered over him and limited his ability.  The improvement in nearly every aspect of his life is directly due to the CPAP machine and medication over the course of a year.  It is emotional to think about the drastic change which occurred in his life over the past ten years.

I distinctly remember a hike in Yosemite about eight years ago where a simple hike up a hill left him breathless and unable to continue on.  At the time, we were concerned but figured asthma was to blame for the shortness of breath.  In summer of 2013, he was camping in northern California at higher elevation when he couldn’t sleep more than 10 minutes without feeling “like he was going to die because I could not get any air.”  The fact that he now has recovered greatly and can take a portable CPAP machine with him anywhere he chooses means he can live his life to the fullest.  It is truly a miracle that my father has almost fully recovered from this sleep disorder and disease when, for the past couple years, we thought it would never be possible.