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Wellness Wednesday for February 15, 2023

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

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I've been long providing semi-solicited medical advice online that people who experience chronic fatigue, sleepiness and tiredness should get assessed for sleep apnea.

And now that I've finally decided to take a dose of my own medicine, the results are in: I've got severe sleep apnea, especially the positional variant which is much worse when I sleep on my back.

I stop breathing approximately every 2 minutes while asleep, and have had my oxygen saturation drop to as low as 70% for prolonged periods. No wonder I feel like shit during the day!

There are a bunch of potential therapies, ranging from using a CPAP machine to keep airways patent through the night, surgical removal of tissues in the throat, mandibular splints, and even ensuring that you lie on your side so that you're less prone to apnea.

Has anyone ever been treated for it? I'd love to hear your experience so I can decide on what to do for myself, it's rather frustrating to find out that I've got it at such a young age, especially since I'm not obese. Even more annoying if it turns out that I took antidepressants for so many years only for my symptoms to not actually be due to depression :(

So CPAP machine basically flows air to user's face? How does it prevent apnea if causes of apnea are internal?

Nah, it's more like a pressure, imaging the throat during apnea is like a collapsed cylindrical balloon, and the CPAP is blowing to keep it inflated and open.

Are you able to breathe through your nose easily while awake? Are your upper teeth crowded, or did you have to have premolars extracted to make room to straighten them out? You may have narrow nasal passages due to maxillary hypoplasia, which can be corrected.

I think I can breathe through my nose easy enough as far as I can tell, but I do have a degree of crowding since my wisdom teeth started showing up to the party.

I'll ask my ENT/Dentist next time I see them, though I suspect they'd have mentioned something during the last consultation if that was the case.

I appreciate the detailed response, I'm reserving judgement till I do a CPAP trial, after which I'll decide how far I want to push things. Here's hoping your trick for CPAP machines works on the brands here!

I apparently have moderate sleep apnea. I received a CPAP machine but it was utterly unworkable, in that a) I could not sleep on my side and b) the sensation of being smothered completely precluded any possibility of sleeping. After several nights of unsuccessful attempts, I returned it and have continued on with my usual snoring and daytime naps.

I'm sorry to hear that, perhaps you could consider splints? Of course, how much nuisance you're willing to tolerate depends on how severe and debilitating your symptoms are.

I also have apnea, but I absolutely can not sleep with anything attached to me, so all the machines that require that are out. Also don't want to have surgery. I wonder what that leaves me with. Probably not much.

There's positional therapy, which may be as good as CPAP. You can also try mandible splints that you put in before going to bed.

Have you tried those springy strips that stick to your nose to open it during the night? I don't think I have sleep apnea, but I do notice higher quality sleep if my breathing is better.

I haven't heard of those before, but while I'm glad it works for you, I suspect it won't be much use for full blown sleep apnea, given that the underlying issue is much further inside the respiratory tract than the nostrils.

ALLEGEDLY mouth taping works wonders for almost zero actual cost:

That's a rather unusual approach, and I'm not sure I can really tape my mouth up every night what with the whole moustache thing. But I appreciate you taking the time to share a less than common technique!

I have severe sleep apnea (about the same numbers as you, from what I recall) and I have had a CPAP for about a year now. I definitely feel it has made a difference for me. I don't feel as tired in the afternoons as I used to, mainly. Before I would need to take a nap most days, but now I'm taking a nap like once every two or three weeks. I can also tell a difference on nights when I forget to use my CPAP. I wake up just feeling more "blah" than usual when that happens.

The main challenge I had was getting the mask tightened enough to stay snug while I was asleep. At first it would come loose as I moved around in my sleep, and I would wake up from the air leaking out. But once I got that set (which was tighter than I thought, it's not painful or anything but it's noticeably tight and leaves lines on my face) it's been smooth sailing.

Thanks! That's reassuring, even though it grates on me to even consider a lifelong nuisance like having to lug a CPAP machine around at such a young age.

But if it does make for a decent QOL improvement, I can subdue my injured pride haha

Go for surgery

How could I reliably assess if I have sleep apnea without getting any tests done?

I'm young and fairly fit, and sleep exclusively on my side, so I don't think I should have it. But I do have some of the symptoms sometimes such as sleepiness and tiredness.

You could try SnoreLab app. If you snore a lot there's a good chance you have it.

Are you really sure you don't want a test done? Polysomnography is quite minimal these days, I had it done at home myself.

If that's not an option, then your best bet is to ask your partner if you snore and also stop breathing for prolonged periods at night. I suppose you could ghetto up some kind of surveillance with a phone to observe yourself too.

(Even if you go to sleep on your side, you might just be tossing and turning while asleep)

You would probably need someone who is around while you sleep, to observe if you stop breathing as you sleep. Otherwise I'm not sure. Though if you're concerned, your doctor should be able to set you up with a test you can do at home. That is how I got diagnosed, I didn't have to go sleep in a lab or anything.

Aw, I teared up a little reading this! Congrats on making it work!

Hell yeah, brother! Keep at it, I'm stoked for you!

My man! Great things are coming.

As a skier, I totally can understand. Sometimes I'm like "omg, why did I do this to myself? This is so scary!" and then it always becomes "I love this so much!" I don't think I like being afraid, and yet I can't help thinking maybe this is also part of what makes it great.