Attacking Sleep Apnea: “It’s All About the Mask”

A large number of individuals with sleep issues from six states kicked off the new year by participating in the January edition of ‘CPAP Chat’ – the world’s only free monthly virtual support group for people with sleep apnea. In addition to the New England states, participants hailed from as far away as Nevada, Florida and Georgia.

‘CPAP Chat’ is a unique town hall style conference call where people with sleep apnea (or has an interest in the topic) share tips on how to get a better night’s sleep and learn about the latest sleep technologies and equipment.

Eric Cohen, ‘CPAP Chat’ host and president of National Sleep Therapy (www.nstherapy.com) , welcomed guest Amy Michaud, a territory manager for ResMed (www.resmed.com) , a maker of devices for sleep-disordered breathing. She emphasized the importance of using a proper-fitting CPAP facial mask. “The biggest challenge for many patients is to find one that provides the perfect fit and seal without irritating the skin,” she said. “Unfortunately, there is no one size that fits all.”

Participants discussed ways to combat mouth dryness – often a result of using a CPAP mask – and learned of fellow patients’ success with Biotene gel or Xylimelt. Michaud talked about the new humidifiers whose water reservoir can last throughout the night. She also described the new ResMed AirSense 10 with a cloud-based patient management system so therapists can access nightly therapy data, troubleshoot and change device settings remotely. “It can be programmed to make the patient more comfortable and sleep more soundly -- which is everyone’s goal,” Michaud said.

Eric Cohen, an engineer who has invented and developed CPAP masks, knows the importance of how the mask is positioned on the face. “Tightening the straps too much can actually decrease the sealing performance,” Cohen says. “If you compress the cushion too much, you change its shape and ability to expand against your face, which is what creates the seal. This can also lead to red marks, sores, and even bruising and broken skin.” Cohen suggests that anyone who has any of these symptoms, or an ill-fitting mask, loud mask leaks, or is kept awake by a whistling or flatulence sound should first make sure they are regularly cleaning and changing their supplies, and then seek advice from a therapist if a new mask doesn’t solve the issue.

The Centers for Disease Control calls sleep apnea a national epidemic. Over 20 million Americans suffer from it, yet most have yet to be diagnosed. Often chronic fatigue can lead to depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, even death. The Department of Transportation estimates drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 injuries annually.

To participate in the next edition of CPAP Chat on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, from 7 – 8 pm (ET), just prior to the session, call 1-800-204-6655, enter access code 342-2187#. Questions may be submitted in advance either via Facebook or email info@cpapchat.org . (Free sessions are always the first Wednesday of each month at 7 pm – ET. One participant in this session will be randomly drawn to receive a $25 Amazon gift card, and a pre-registered participant will win a free ResMed CPAP mask. For more info and to register to win a mask, visit www.cpapchat.org

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