To say that this new diagnosis was a shock would be an understatement. Talk about denial, I went into the sleep lab a few weeks ago thinking that by doing these tests we could finally rule out the notion that I suffer from OSA. I told myself..No way do I have sleep apnea, after all, Im not severely overweight and a sleep study I had done less than 5 years ago was totally normal. Boy was I wrong…on all counts. Not only do I have sleep apnea, but apparently its pretty severe with over 30 hypopneic events recorded per hour along with some O2 desats. It’s a myth that only heavy people are at risk for sleep apnea.
Thinking back on it, it was about 6 months ago that I started noticing that I was feeling more and more mentally fatigued during the daytime. It was getting so bad that I couldn’t concentrate on anything and just felt out if it all the time. I attributed my symptoms to not sleeping well at night because of my worsening lung disease. It wasn’t until I did SARP III back in Feb where one of the blood tests revealed that my hemoglobin was on the high side, that Dr Wenzel recommended I have another sleep study done. She reminded me that a high hemoglobin level in a person chronic lung disease could indicate hypoxemia ( low blood oxygen levels), which is often a by product of sleep apnea. Add to that the bronchomalacia that was detected during my last bronchoscopy, and becomes even likely that my airways are collapsing when I sleep.
The thing about OSA, is that not only does it deprive you of restorative sleep, it can also make your asthma (or whatever variety of lung disease you have) worse, not to mention putting you at increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, weight gain and a bunch of other fun stuff. For asthmatics OSA can actually cause the smaller airways to spasm and tighten up much like what happens during an asthma attack. In other words, OSA is a trigger for nocturnal asthma. This might account for why I wake up gasping for air all the time and why I have to take so many breathing treatments during the night.
The treatment for severe sleep Apnea is CPAP ( continous positive airway pressure) during sleep. The improvement reported by some patients is draumatic. I’ll admit though, like many, I’m not the most compliant patient when it comes to being hooked up to machines and having a masked strapped to my face, but if it means better breathing and more sleep, I’ll at least give it a good shot. They wanna start me on Bipap with a pressure of 18/7cm. I’ll probably use the full face mask, as Im a big time mouth breather.
I’ll report back in a month or so .
Oh, and while im not considered severely overweight, Im still 10 lbs heavier than I should be.Im already making headway on losing it. Anything to make breathing easier.. that’s my new motto.