Is CPAP Treatment Really Just A Scam?

There are people who think that CPAP is just another way for ‘them’ to get your money. Is it? Join me as I examine this quite reasonable viewpoint.

“This is a Racket!”Is CPAP a scam?

The patient sitting before me was a rather tough looking gentleman who voiced his opinions quite bluntly. I kept trying to discuss the sleep study, but he just wanted to talk about guns and knives, and how he ‘takes care’ of situations.

He even took out one of his knives and showed it to me.

“Oh, it’s still got blood on it,” he said, wiping the blade on his pants leg. Putting the knife down, he scrutinized me suspiciously, and said: “I think this is a racket!” And he was serious. This guy doesn’t say anything unless he is serious.

Then he went on to ask me some pointed questions. One of which was “How many people that you test end up on CPAP?’ It was a good question, and I answered him as accurately as I could.  “About 50-75% + are started on CPAP”, I replied.

With that, he said, “Yeah, see. Now if you’d told me only a few people are put on CPAP, I’d be o.k. with that. But with that many, it sounds like a racket to me.”

I sure was glad he was no longer holding that bloody knife.

We continued this conversation as I proceeded to hook him up. As it turned out, He thought CPAP was a racket for several reasons. One of them was that he really didn’t understand the consequences of untreated sleep apnea.

However, he did listen as I talked. Maybe that was because I was up front with him. Or that I really tried to speak at his level. Actually, he didn’t have much choice; I kinda had him strapped in the chair. (LOL!!)

Standards of Care

We needed to find a way to treat people more effectively. Therefore, some kind of standard had to be developed. Something we could use as a reference to determine the severity of sleep apnea. Thus, the creation of the Apnea Hypopnea Index (or AHI).

This index categorizes the severity of sleep apnea and is based on the number of times you stop breathing in an hour. For instance, if you stop breathing 5 times in an hour, your AHI would be 5.

AHI categories are:

  • Not significant: AHI less than 5.
  • Mild sleep apnea: AHI 5-15.
  • Moderate sleep apnea: AHI 15-30.
  • Severe sleep apnea: AHI greater than 30.

Using this standard as a reference, it’s estimated that as many as 20% of Americans have some degree of sleep apnea; although that figure could actually be low. Also, many factors can impact the severity of OSA to a greater or lesser degree. These include age, disease, and sex.

Uncovering the Great CPAP Scam!!

But are these standards manipulated in a way that’s more focused on sales, as opposed to appropriate treatment? In other words, are these standards set intentionally low so that people who really don’t need treatment are started on CPAP anyway? Much research has gone into establishing accurate guidelines.

One such study is reported in an article in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It details an 18-year follow-up of 1,522 people. These people had anywhere from ‘no’ sleep apnea (AHI less than 5), up to severe sleep apnea (AHI greater than 30). The study shows that people with sleep apnea are 3 times more likely to die as those who don’t. You can read the complete article here: http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=1014 

Also, we use at least 2 different standards to determine whether someone actually qualifies for CPAP. As a result, those who are more at risk of sudden death, such as people who already have heart disease, for example, can qualify for treatment with a lower AHI than those who have no known heart disease.

So no, we can’t just decide, ‘hey, let’s put this guy on CPAP because we’re a little short on money’. (And actually putting someone on CPAP when they don’t need it can be harmful in itself). That whole thing could be a lawsuit in the making.

Although it does seem like money, more than compassion is the driving force behind much of health care. Maybe it is. But the unfortunate by-product of that is many of us well-meaning healthcare folks get a bad rap.

To die or not to die, That is the Question

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. So many people don’t realize how threatening poor quality sleep really is to your health. Click on the following link to learn more:  http://sleepguyblog.com/__poor-quality-sleep-cause-disease. There’s also a direct link between sleep apnea and heart disease; as well as Diabetes. See http://sleepguyblog.com/alarming-truth-sleep-apnea/

What Would you do?

So, if you had a friend with sleep apnea, and you knew about the diseases it caused, would you talk to them about it? Yeah, I know, we can’t force anyone to do anything. It’s ultimately up to the person. But the more you care about someone, the more strongly you’ll try to help, right?

And while I really don’t know my patients very well. I do have a concern for mankind in general. And that is what drives me to help. And there’s a bunch of us out there.

Final Thoughts

I guess there will always be those who think we’re just out to scam people. It’s funny, though. The only people I’ve heard accuse us of that are the ones who aren’t using CPAP, and/or don’t really know anyone who is. And really, I don’t hear the scam word all that often.

But I think about the lives I’ve really helped. And the people who have actually experienced CPAP, and what they say about it.

Sure, there are people who want to ‘help’ you just because they’ll make money doing so. And yeah, I also make money helping you. But, honestly,  even if I had all the money I needed so that I didn’t have to work, I’d still enjoy doing what I do.(But then again, maybe I’m a bit crazy!)

However, there are a lot of scams and insurance fraud out there. And I think it’s harder than ever to trust people. But Sleep Apnea really is a serious life-threatening disorder, and CPAP is still the gold standard of care.

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Have you ever experienced any medical or insurance fraud? Please leave out any names, but otherwise, be as specific as you can. Let’s talk.

Till next time…Blessings.

 

But

The Patients I see at the Sleep lab are Awesome!!

I really enjoy working with the patients I see at my sleep lab and often think about all the people I’ve helped. So with that in mind, please join me as I, once again, reminisce on my years as a Sleep Tech.

My Sleep Study Patients Aren’t Stupid

So many of the patients that I see in the sleep lab are quite consciousness challenged, but it’s not funny. These people come in fighting the very sleep that they never really fully attain. It must be very frustrating, to say the least.

I really feel for these people who have struggled, day after semi-conscious sleepless day. Dragging themselves around. Maybe even being ridiculed for being ‘lazy’. Or misdiagnosed with depression; although a lack of good quality sleep can also lead to this. See http://sleepguyblog.com/damaging-effects-sleep-deprivation1/

I mean, here are people who go through life in a fog, with never enough energy to do things. And yet, life is calling out from all directions, screaming for attention. Reality doesn’t care that you’re too tired to do anything at the time. It demands your attention, even if you have none to give.

No, these people aren’t lazy. And they’re not stupid either. It’s just that long-term sleep deprivation has taken its toll…not only on their minds but their bodies as well.

A little empathy goes a long ways.

Therefore, once my patients are all tucked in, and the studies are up and running, I can settle into the mostly quiet solitude and begin the work of saving lives. I say ‘mostly’ because some nights can be quite hectic!

Yet even this generally slower pace has never been boring. There’s usually something going on; like the time one of my patients vanished right before my very eyes!!

With that, I now present to you…

The Case of the Disappearing Patient

But first, a little background.

I travel to several different hospitals, so I get to do sleep studies in various facilities. Also, each hospital has the sleep lab set up differently. This particular night, I was at a hospital where the sleep rooms are down the hall from the control room.

Anyway, when a patient is ‘hooked up’ there are a ton of wires all over the place. These wires are plugged into what’s called a ‘Head Box’. This Head Box is attached by a cable to an amplifier in the patient’s room.

The amplifier then transfers the data from the patient to the control room where I sit. There’s also an infrared camera with a two-way speaker in the patients room so we can talk back and forth.

patients

(By the way, that’s me, cleverly disguised as a sleep study patient. Hey, check out those crazy wires! (It was one of my students first attempt at a hookup. Not bad, huh?)).

Anyway, one of the instructions I give my patients is the need to let me know if they need to get up; say to use the bathroom, or something. This is because I have to go into their room and disconnect the Head Box.

Now you see him, now you Don’t

So here I am, sitting at the computers, doing some paperwork. The studies have been running for a few hours by now. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, a red square appears on one of the monitors. I look up to see the red ‘Loss of Signal’ icon. My lightning fast brain also notices that the patient’s signals have flat lined!! :-0 !!

I take a quick look at the t.v monitor, but the bed is empty!!  Double  :-0 !!! ! So I go tearing down the hall wondering just what I’ll find, as this guy said nothing about sleep walking. Arriving at his room, I carefully open the door not knowing what to expect. I mean, I hope he’s still in there!!

It’s dark, except for some light coming through a partially open bathroom door. And there, Head Box in one hand, and opening the bathroom door with the other, stands my patient. Stopping dead in his tracks, he looks at me in surprise and says:

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you!”

Knowledge is Power

Allow me a moment of seriousness.

As a sleep technologist, I wear many hats. One of which is that of a teacher. I talk with my patients about the dangers of untreated sleep apnea as much as they’ll listen. Some listen in silence. Others ask a ton of questions. And then there are those who don’t really seem like they want to know anything, or maybe they’re just too tired to care at the moment.

However, many people just don’t realize that having a sleep study can lead to a huge improvement in their quality of life. Therefore, whether they’re too stubborn, or just in denial, education plays a key role in their treatment. That’s because a knowledgeable patient is a receptive patient.

Consequently, I’ll I talk to them and share as much as they really want to know; even though I don’t know everything myself. On the other hand, I do know enough to do what I do, and I do it quite well.

Closing Thoughts

So how’re you feeling right now? I mean, you’ve read this far (unless you skipped down to this part), therefore you must have some type of interest in sleep problems.

If that’s the case, I’d really like to hear from you, as there are so many people out there struggling, and looking for answers. What you share might be just what they need to hear.

Hey, saving lives is fun, please join me in this quest if you will, and share what you know, and/or have experienced. Your comment could actually lead to changing someone’s life for the better.

Thanks for letting me have some of your time. Till next week…

Blessings

 

 

The Things That I do put Most People to Sleep

I just want to let my hair down (LOL, I don’t have that much!), and share some things on a more personal level. But I’ll also not sugar coat anything about the reality of sleep apnea. So, yeah, this’s a friendly chat; but friends don’t let friends die before their time. (I know, I have to ruin everything don’t I?)

I Have Sleep Super Powers

As I sit down at the controls I take a look at my monitors. Both screens show nice crisp signals, so I ease Sleepback a bit and keep an eye on things; waiting for my patients to fall asleep, and some real activity to begin. How’s that for being different? It’s not until my patients are asleep that things really start to happen.

Yet, a sense of peace comes over me as I watch the monitors, and everything gets kinda surreal, like I’m in another world; or on another planet.

Sitting here, I began to think back on things; and take some amusement in the fact that, among my many talents, I’m a CPAP Ninja!  That’s right! I have the ability to go into my patient’s room and start them on CPAP without rousing them!

Some will wake in the morning wondering when I came in and put the mask on. But actually, it’s not that I’m really that good, these patients are just that sleep deprived.

Common comments I get are, “It must be pretty boring watching people sleep”; and, “How do you stay awake all night?”

Those remarks used to really bother me, because, here I am literally saving people’s lives, and all I get is ‘it must be so boring, how can you stay awake?’ And yet, it just shows me how little people understand about what happens, or doesn’t happen but should, while they sleep.

Then I find myself going back in time and recalling all the patients  I’ve helped; and the knowledge that, yes, I really am actually saving people’s lives.

That’s a Dumb Question!

One guy comes to mind. I have my patients fill out some paperwork before the study starts. I’m in the control room, which is right outside the patient’s rooms, when this guy calls out, “What kind of question is this?” I went to his door and asked: “What do you mean?”

“This question”, he says, ” ‘Has today been unusual in any respect?’ Really,” he said looking up at me a bit sarcastically,  “I’m having a !@#$ sleep study, and you’re wondering if today’s been different in any way?”

I’m not sure if he’s serious or just joking, so I simply respond with “I guess the question should be reworded to read, ‘Up until now, has the day been unusual in any respect?”

Just the Facts Ma’am

The patients that have sleep studies come from all walks of life, and all ages. From infants, all the way to those towards the end of their lives. However, the ‘average’ patient is an obese middle aged male.

And yes, sleep apnea can run in families. This is because you inherit the physical characteristics that make sleep apnea more likely; such as a short thick neck; and being overweight. Among other characteristics.

Also, it’s estimated that 1 out of 5 Americans have mild sleep apnea. Although, by the time people are seen in the sleep lab, those numbers are significantly higher. For example, the average number of people placed on treatment during a sleep study is 50%-75% or more. Additionally, as many as 80% of people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed.

However, this disorder is more common in men than women; or is it? Check out my article that addresses this:

http://sleepguyblog.com/bias-diagnosis-sleep-disorders-women/

Sleep Well and Prosper

So many people think that treating sleep disorders is only about sleeping better. I hear people say they don’t even know why they’re at the sleep lab because they don’t have any problem sleeping.

For example, I have patient’s, come to the lab and do their version of sleep. Many times, these same people tell me they sleep just fine and don’t know why they’re here.

And yet that same person might have high blood pressure, or other heart issues, or be diabetic. When I explain how their heart condition or diabetes might just be caused by sleep apnea they start thinking. Unless, of course, they’re in denial; and there’s a lot of that out there.

Maybe they really believe they’re sleeping well. Maybe they know something’s wrong, but just don’t want to see a Doctor. Seems that most people seen in the sleep lab are there because someone else noticed a problem.

Usually, it’s a spouse or significant other that has the complaint. That’s because they’re the ones kept awake by loud snoring, or ‘all that thrashing about’ during the night. Many couples no longer sleep in the same bed, or even the same room for this very reason!

Then, there are patients who hope that sleep apnea is the problem, and CPAP is the answer. However, they don’t ‘qualify’ for treatment. Then, when I get them up in the morning, and they realize they don’t have the mask on, they quietly go about finishing the morning paperwork; leaving the lab in silence.

I feel sorry for those people really; here’s one more thing that isn’t their problem. It’s unfortunate because not knowing can be worse than knowing. I guess I can’t be Superman to everyone.

 Closing Thoughts on Sleep

So what do you think? Because although more and more people are hearing about sleep apnea, there’s still much work to be done in the way of educating the general population about this outright deadly, but easily treatable, disorder.

Please don’t let denial kill you or someone you love.

Therefore, carefully consider your life or that of the one you love; and if you have any questions or concerns, leave a comment. Who knows, you might just share something that could help someone else.

I’ll also do my best to answer any questions, and/or respond to your comments. Thank you.

Till next time…Blessings.

Can Poor Quality Sleep Really Cause Every Disease?

In this article, we’ll take a look at a different aspect of sleep and stress. I’ll show you how stress causes inflammation, and inflammation can ultimately cause many, if not all diseases.

Balance is the key

First of all, too much sleep is just as deadly, as too little sleep. This is because either state puts stress on your body. So then, balance is the key, and therefore, balance equals health.

Look at it this way. Our bodies are balanced when things that should be working are working. However, when things that should work, aren’t working; or, when things that shouldn’t be working are working, an imbalance is created.  And sooner or later, disease will set in.

By the way, if you’re thinking I’m exaggerating by saying too little or too much sleep is deadly, I’m not. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at stress and inflammation as they relate to sleep.

 Inflammation and Sleep

Once again referring to my previous article http://sleepguyblog.com/how-reducing-stress-improves-womens-health/, we saw how sleep causes stress. And stress causes a whole series of events to take place, but we’re going to focus on a little guy called cortisol.

Cortisol regulates your immune system. Too much or too little over a period of time can cause frequent infections, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and chronic inflammation.

So even though Cortisol initially works to reduce inflammation, it eventually sets in motion a process that leads to chronic inflammation. And while inflammation is a part of wound healing, it can eventually cause disease, including cancer.

Also, reducing inflammation leads to suppression of the immune system, exposing us to disease. Yet inflammation itself can also lead to disease! It does this by ‘hiding’ mutated cells so that they go undetected by your immune system.

Remember, it’s all about balance.

I think further clarification is necessary here. That is that inflammation and infection are two different things. An infection can cause inflammation. But inflammation can take place without an infection, which is the focus of this article.

Let’s take a look a closer look at this.

Inflammation and Diseases

When you get an injury, your body responds by making your blood vessels ‘leaky’. This allows certain blood cells to go to the infected area and to properly deal with the invading organism; resulting in redness, swelling and tenderness to the area. Once the invader’s  dealt with, swelling goes down, and things return to normal; or at least they should.

But what if they don’t? What if you’re constantly under stress?  We’ve already seen how inflammation can turn deadly. Therefore,  poor sleep causes stress, and chronic stress causes damaging inflammation, and chronic inflammation could be the cause of every disease. So then, poor quality sleep could be behind most, if not all diseases!

Or put another way. Balance equals health, and imbalance equals disease. Therefore, good quality sleep (balance) equals health; while poor quality sleep(imbalance) equals disease.

The following is a list of some of the diseases caused by inflammation:

1-Allergic diseases, like Asthma, Eczema.

2-Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and Parkinson’s.

3-Heart disease.

4-Chronic Inflammation is also a critical component of tumor growth. Although it takes inflammation 20-30 years to produce cancer. Cancer’s also a risk factor for heart disease.

sleep and inflammation

 

 

 

 

In addition to all this, inflammation even causes us to age faster!

So then, if it’s all about balance, what’s the best way to cure disease?

Treat the Cause, not the Symptoms

Guess what? Good quality sleep is an excellent treatment for inflammation.

Again, if disease is caused by imbalance, then restoring balance should restore health. But modern medicine deals with symptoms, not the cause itself. Therefore, by getting to the cause of the disease, many, if not all, diseases could possibly be cured without medicine. Or, are there man made drugs that do restore balance?

Allow me to rant a bit here. And I speak only for myself. But I wonder if entities that stand to make a lot of money selling drugs for diseases are censoring information that prove natural forms of treatment are more effective than modern medicine?

In either case, here’s a list of foods that affect inflammation.

Foods that promote inflammation

Pasteurized dairy products, red meat, refined carbohydrates, sugar.

Foods that reduce inflammation

1-Fiber, Fruits, and Vegetables.

2-Garlic is good because it has a high sulfur content, and sulfur inhibits inflammation.

3-Herbal teas, including green tea which has mild anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to this acupuncture can effectively treat stress. And studies also show that moderate physical activity does reduce inflammation as well.

Conclusion

We saw how poor sleep causes stress,  stress causes inflammation, and inflammation causes disease. Now if inflammation is the cause of all disease, including premature aging, then a good night’s sleep can keep you healthier. Remember, it’s all about balance. Too much or too little of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

Therefore if inflammation is the common denominator of all diseases, including aging And if inflammation is an imbalance, then restoring balance, not medicine, is the key to curing disease.

And one of the ways to restore balance is to get good quality sleep.

So, what do you think are some good ways to restore balance? Or do you think it’s more involved than that? And can modern medicine really restore balance?

Please leave a comment. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.

Any feedback from you will help to improve this blog.

Also, be sure to visit and like my blog on facebook.

Till next time…Blessings.

How to Improve Sleep by Treating Sinus Congestion

Sinus congestion can be a nuisance, especially if you have sleep apnea and use a nasal mask. In this article, I’ll address what to do when you have a stuffy nose and also use a nasal mask. I’ll also talk about allergies, proper mask care and what it could mean if you have constant sinus congestion.

How to Improve Sleep by Treating Sinus Congestion

First of all, there are many types of allergies, but in this article, I’m going to focus on the causes of sinus congestion, and how to effectively deal with it. As well as address proper skin and PAP mask care.

To begin with, let’s take a look at what causes nasal congestion and why it could be more than an annoyance.

An Inflammatory Response

When your body thinks it’s under attack, your immune system kicks in and several things happen. Among them is the release of histamine, which causes a build-up of fluid, (inflammation) around the injury in an attempt to ‘flush out’ the harmful substance.

So, an initial inflammatory response is good. But when this leads to sinus congestion, it can mean the difference between wearing your nasal mask, or go without. And you know how even one night without that feels.

That’s where antihistamines and decongestants come in. Antihistamines reduce congestion by slowing the production of histamine. Which stops production of mucous. On the other hand, decongestants dry up your sinuses after mucous is already produced.

Furthermore, chronic inflammation can not only lead to disease but cause you to age more quickly. Interestingly, mental stress makes inflammation worse. More on this in my upcoming article.

And in my previous article on stress,http://sleepguyblog.com/how-reducing-stress-improves-womens-health/we looked at how stress also releases cortisol, which has several negative effects, besides causing inflammation.

Now let’s have a look at some ways to deal with sinus congestion.

Sinus Congestion

If sinus congestion is temporary, it’s probably nothing more than an inconvenience, and here are some ways to treat this. We’ll look at conventional medicine first; then see what alternative treatments are available.

CONVENTIONAL

Briefly, steroid nasal sprays, such as Flonase and Nasacort, reduce swelling in your nasal passages. Antihistamines, like Benadryl or Claritin, block histamine, and histamine is what produces congestion. Decongestants, such as Sudafed, also reduce congestion by decreasing the fluid that’s already there.

As with any medicine, these all have some rather undesirable side effects. For example, Sudafed is known to have caused heart attacks.

So then, let’s take a look at some treatment’s that might be safer, and quite effective.

ALTERNATIVE

There are a few treatment options here. Below I list some of the more common ones.

First up, the Neti Pot. Perhaps you’ve heard of this guy, or maybe even tried it, or use it. It’s basically a little pot that you fill with pharmaceutical grade saline. This is then poured into one sinus and drains out the other. The Neti pot is quite effective in relieving congestion.

Aroma Therapy is also proving to be quite effective in fighting inflammation and boosting your immune system.

Try the following:

Peppermint Oil–Helps reduce inflammation and opens your airway.

Tea Tree Oil–This is for topical use only; and is, therefore, good for skin allergies. Do not take internally!

Frankincense Oil–Relieves emotional stress. And because emotional stress increases inflammation, relieving stress will reduce inflammation.

Lemon oil–is actually a good detoxifier, besides improving digestion and promoting weight loss.

Also, while drinking hot liquids might seem to relieve congestion, it’s mostly a placebo effect. Although drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated is a good idea.

Then there are issues with mask irritation. Let’s look at that.

 Allergies and CPAP Masks

There are some basic things you can do to keep your PAP mask clean, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money.

First of all, just make sure you clean your mask and tube daily. Simply wash them in warm soapy water using non-fragrant soap. Then rinse with warm water and air dry. There are also machines that you can buy for cleaning your PAP equipment.

Your mask can also cause skin irritation if it’s not cleaned well, doesn’t fit right, or is made of a material that causes an allergic reaction. Beyond that, keeping your skin clean is important as well. Therefore it’s a good idea to wash your face with soap and water to remove dirt and oils before putting your mask on.

Conclusion

So while inflammation is your bodies way of flushing out toxins, it can be quite frustrating when sinus congestion interferes with your sleep.

Also, if it becomes chronic, it not only can cause disease, it can also make you look older than you really are. It also worsens sleep apnea, which can cause other diseases as well. However, there are some good treatment options available; as well as some things you can do to maintain your health.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at the dangers of inflammation as it relates to your sleep, and more importantly, your health.