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Mild Sleep Apnea diagnosis - is CPAP dangerous?

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drcd27 +0 points · 26 days ago Original Poster

Hello! My name is David and after three sleep studies, I was diagnosed with mild OSA last month at 32 years old. I'm not a smoker or much of a drinker and I'm not overweight. My doctor told me that since I am experiencing symptoms (daily daytime grogginess/fatigue, trouble concentrating etc) I could try either the oral appliance method or the CPAP.

Here are my stats from the sleep study that diagnosed me:

Mild obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome with exacerbation in REM sleep with REM RDI of 7.1/hr Short sleep latency with normal sleep efficiency. Reduced REM latency with reduced duration of REM sleep, excessive N1, normal N2, reduced N3 sleep. No EEG or EKG abnormalities were noted. No significant periodic leg movements in sleep were noted. Sleep related Bruxism was noted.

2 obstructive events 12 hypopneas 19 RERAS

RDI is 5.8

So I have a mild case, but nonetheless I do not get quality sleep and I've spent months looking for the solution. I never feel fully rested when I wake up in the morning. I just don't know what that's like. I do snore, and that's what led me to looking into a sleep study.

My question is: I have been prescribed the Resmed Airsense 10 and I have it now. Tried it last night and in 2.5 hours wasn't able to fall asleep. Not because I found it uncomfortable, but because I am (irrationally?) scared that because I have a more mild case, using the CPAP is going to cause me to stop breathing in my sleep and kill me. In my final sleep study, I used a CPAP and they told me I did fine, but I can't shake this anxiety. I live/sleep alone for the time being, so I guess that's not helping my anxiety about this. My pressure is prescribed at 7, which isn't even that high -- but I'm just worried that I'll fall asleep and won't wake up. The tech who performed my last sleep study was telling me about central apnea caused by CPAP if you don't get the pressure right, so that didn't help things either.

Anyone else feel this way? Is this completely irrational? I was so eager to start using the CPAP because I want to feel better and get better sleep, but now that I have it I'm too chicken to use it! Any thoughts, tips, and advice on this would be greatly appreciated and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sierra +0 points · 26 days ago Sleep Enthusiast

Welcome to the forum. First with your basic question. Is CPAP dangerous, I would suggest no. There can be some adverse effects but they are usually temporary and in the minor irritation category, not dangerous. From the AirSense manual there are some listed Adverse effects.'

*Adverse effects

Patients should report unusual chest pain, severe headache, or increased breathlessness to their prescribing physician. An acute upper respiratory tract infection may require temporary discontinuation of treatment.

The following side effects may arise during the course of therapy with the device:

  • drying of the nose, mouth, or throat
  • nosebleed
  • bloating
  • ear or sinus discomfort
  • eye irritation
  • skin rashes*

I am not a medical professional and can't give you medical advice. However one of the things I have learned from others is that your diagnosis symptoms could indicate you have Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (URAS). Those signs would be your age, weight, almost no obstructive apnea, and higher hypopnea and RERA events. CPAP can be an effective treatment for this. If you have the standard AutoSet machine, and are not locked into it, you may want to ask your sleep clinic if you could instead use the AutoSet For Her version. It may do a better and more comfortable job of treating UARS. If it doesn't then it can be set back to the standard mode without switching the machine.

On your fear of using the device, I would suggest you do a few things. Try using it while watching TV or reading a book until you get used to it. There are some comfort settings on the AirSense 10 that are very helpful if they have not been set up for you. If you are interested in what they are, post back, and I can tell you more about it.

Hope that helps some. Post back for more help.

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MarkHanson +1 point · 25 days ago

Fears are not irrational until you understand them and then they may be if you let them. I feared using CPAP because I was not briefed on the system well enough to really understand it. I was convinced that I was at risk if I did not - so I did. Years with CPAP convince me that it is the mask - not the machine - that is the issue for most folks, myself included. I am lucky. I am able to sleep with my mouth exposed, so I never had to deal with a full face mask, I used nasal buds. I now use a dental appliance because I was crushing my teeth, so my mouth is occupied.

I was luckier still to be at a conference in Denver and be shows a newer sort of mask - which is great --- for me. Respironics Dreamwear Nasal Mask Frame Medium and Softwraps It is wicked comfortable and very light weight. When my original one wore out I found I could buy a replacement on Amazon, so I did.

It took months for me to become comfortable using the CPAP. A major inducement was the support of my wife who remarked that with it both I, and she, seemed to sleep better. No snoring. After years of use and a machine upgrade after about four years I am committed to using mine at night -- and napping. I travel with mine.

Give yourself time and be patient.

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Biguglygremlin +0 points · 22 days ago

There is much good advice and wisdom contained above but I absolutely hate and resent the need of my machine and would strongly recommend that you exhaust every possible alternative before committing to this pathway. I spent years with Apnea and only resigned myself to the machine after it became very severe (more than 50 x 30sec). Up till then I used many approaches including antihistamines and nasal sprays. In retrospect I should have taken even more steps, including drastic weight loss and every form of surgical intervention possible, rather than adopt a machine.

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