I'd like to monitor my oxygen saturation each night. Can anyone recommend a product they've purchased and are happy with?
I'm Mike, 43, happily married for 17 years with three kids (ages 5, 12, and 15). Lifelong sleeping problems. Always had a stuffy nose, later learned I had a deviated septum and a doctor told me once that there was something about the way my tongue is usually positioned and makes breathing more difficult. Definitely a mouth breather. Have a rough time at the dentist because I don't breathe out of my nose well. Can't take more than a bite of food without taking a drink. Always was a snorer, until a couple of years ago when my wife said I stopped snoring. Now I find out that wasn't a good thing, because stopping of the snoring most likely coincided with the worsening of my apnea. For 15 years, I worked a swing shift and got home after midnight, so I just crashed from exhaustion and wasn't really aware of what was going on while I was sleeping.
Starting maybe three years ago, started having various health problems show up. Low thyroid. Low testosterone. Low Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin D. High Blood Pressure. High Hemoglobin and Hemocrit, which I just discovered is because of the low oxygen levels in my blood. Went to various specialists... cardiologist; neurologist; oncologist, all to explore various weird lab results that kept popping up. My list of prescriptions increased to six. But nothing was working.
About eight months ago, I started waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Every night, I had dreams that involved suffocation, drowning, being buried alive, etc. Pretty horrific all around. I became so afraid of going to sleep that I would prop myself up and some nights would literally slap myself when I started to doze, just to avoid dozing off. Things that used to work to help relax me.. benadryl, a couple glasses of wine, only made things worse. The breathing problems started happening in the daytime as well, so I thought maybe I'd become asthmatic.
Perhaps I never focused on the sleeping problem enough when talking to my doctor, because I had so many other health problems and we were exploring all these possibilities. But finally one appointment he asked if I'd ever had a sleep study. Lifechanging moment.
Did the overnight PulseOx first, got it on a Friday and wore it pretty much all weekend. When the results came in, the respiratory therapist actually hand delivered it to my doctor because the results were so concerning. Average oxygen saturation was in the 80%, but numerous times it dipped into the mid 60s. Then came the overnight sleep study, which confirmed what we already knew. AHI was 47, but the length of each event was particularly troubling-- most were over 30 seconds. Apparently this is why my oxygen saturation was so low. I wasn't breathing for a full 23 minutes each hour.
I'm now 10 days into using my first CPAP machine. Going OK. I've been able to tolerate the mask for an average of about 4 hours per night, which is all I'm sleeping. My AHI is down to about 5 (last night it was 6), which isn't as low as I'd like but it's a start.
Now my biggest concerns have to do with damage that's already been done. Has my heart been damaged? Will I have memory or other neurological problems as I get older? Will my hormones return to normal after a few months of CPAP? Who knows but I'm happy to be heading in a healthy direction, at long last.
You'll want to keep your sinuses as clear as possible once you start using a CPAP machine. The pressure from the mask will give you a pretty bad sinus headache in my experience. If you crank up the heat and humidity it helps, but I've found Flonase spray to really help. A couple of sprays in each nostril in the evening has really helped me get through the night without ripping my mask off and throwing it (which I did the first night!)
I just recently got my diagnosis so I don't pretend to be an expert, but from what I've read the dangers seem to be more over the long term (years) when your organs are deprived of oxygen. We've all had to wait those few extra days in the beginning when it seems like it's taking forever to start treatment. But I know how frustrating it is to get your diagnosis and not get help immediately. It took me about 8 months from the time I first complained about some of the symptoms to my doctor to finally getting my CPAP machine about a week and a half ago. That's a long time to wait, and once I saw my PulseOx numbers it was scary. I was dropping down into the 60% range several times a night! My overnight sleep test showed 47 events per hour. Every step took many weeks... the insurance had to approve the overnight PulseOx test; then had to approve the overnight sleep test (they denied the overnight at the clinic even though my PulseOx numbers were so bad); then they had to approve the CPAP machine. Each of those approvals took several weeks, after which I needed to make appointments at the sleep clinic and the respiratory therapist, which was several weeks each time. Happy to finally have all that behind me. It is frustrating though when the doctors tell you how serious the condition can be, yet the process to get help moves so slowly. Hang in there!