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My story...gas problems and SMART CPAP

Posted by FrankS on October 02, 1999 at 20:34:54:

I have an interesting story about my experiences with sleep apnea that I thought some of you would be interested in.

About 4 years ago, my wife finally convinced me I needed to see a doctor about my snoring. I saw an ENT who doubted I had OSA because I did not fit the typical mold of OSA patients who are overweight (back then I was 6' and 190 lbs, now I am 200 lbs). I went in to a sleep lab and had a sleep study done. The sleep center had there own physician and he told me I had OSA and I needed a CPAP machine. He persuaded me not to get surgery because of some awful side effects with drinks coming out of my nose. Sounded nasty, so I went with CPAP. I needed a pressure of 10 to stop my apnic events. Well, I got the CPAP machine with a nose mask and found it to be AWFUL. I tried it for about one month. I could not stand the mask strapped around my head, the continual maneuvering of the mask to stop leaks, and the constant rush of air into my nose. I also had a peculiar side effect with air entering my stomach and intestines. This caused me to burp incessantly when I took the mask off to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The next morning I would have severe cramps and found myself continuously passing gas.

Well, I went to my doctor and he said he found it hard to believe the CPAP was forcing air into my stomach. It may have been hard to believe but it was happening. I didn't care for that doctor's lack of knowledge about my situation. I got frustrated and gave up trying to treat my OSA. I went for about 2 years before I decided to try again. I moved onto another doctor. I got a new young doctor who said he heard about the case of air entering the gastrointenstinal tract but it was rare. He suggested using a BIPAP machine that should reduce the pressure entering my system. I thought this would be great because maybe then I could burp during the reduced pressure when I was exhaling. I had another sleep study done because this doctor worked with a different sleep study center. I was set up with a BIPAP at 10 during inhale and 4 during exhale. I had trouble with the inhale and exhale pressures being timed with how I was breathing. Also, I still had my gas problems. During this time I was in a transition where I was changing jobs and moving to another city. Because of all that was going on in my life, I gave up trying to work out the BIPAP machine to work for me.

I moved to my new city and job and waited about a year and a half before trying again. I went to a new doctor and had another sleep study done. Thankfully I was still at a pressure of 10 to stop my apnic events. I was glad my pressure didn't increase. I told my doctor I would like to give BIPAP another try to attempt to stop my gas problems. I tried BIPAP for about 2 weeks. I didn't burp as much as I used to but I still had problems with cramps and passing gas the next morning. I was getting very depressed. I knew I had to do something. I've heard about OSA probably being a cause of many deaths that have been ascribed to natural causes. Now, doctors believe a lot of these deaths were due to untreated OSA. I just didn't no what to do. I thought next time I see the doctor I am asking him to cut me.

During my very depressing weekend, I decided to surf the net to see what I could find out about surgeries for OSA. I found this site and got very excited. There were people out there with the same frustrations and experiences! It was such a great support for me to hear how people dealt with their OSA. I decided to interact and sent off my problem with gas. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that others had the same side effect and had some suggestions to solve the problem. I tried raising the head of my bed with no result. Others did say that when their pressure was reduced they did not have the problem. But, with reduced pressure came reduced treatment of the OSA. I found out from other messages on this site about a SMART CPAP that only provides the high pressure when you are entering an apnic event. I went back to my doctor and asked him to prescribe this machine for me. He did and I must say that I have FOUND MY SOLUTION!

The SMART CPAP is wonderful. It somehow senses when I am entering an apnic event and only provide me 10 lbs/in2 at this time. At other times I am only getting a pressure of 4. I have no more gas problems. I also don't have problems relaxing before I go to bed because a pressure of only 4 is quite bearable. I also don't have problems with leaks. When I put the mask on and turn the machine on it goes through a leak test which involves the machine forcing a pressure of 10 for a couple of minutes so you can fix the mask to make sure there are no leaks. I also have a wonderful mask that has some sort of gel matrix that conforms to my face a lot better than my prior masks which does an excellent job of preventing leaks. I have some problem breathing through my nose since I am a mouth breather. I have found that some squirts of NASONEX up my nose clears the passageways so I can breath easier through my nose.

I am not sure why the air swallowing is so rare. I did learn from one individual that we both have something in common that may explain why we both have problems with air entering our GI tract with CPAP. He had a hernia of the muscles entering the stomach. I have been diagnosed with acid reflux, which has been described to me as a muscle flap entering the stomach having difficulty closing. I would wake up in the middle of the night with gastric juices in my throat. Less stress and tagamet has allowed me to handle the acid reflux. I wonder if others with gas problems on the CPAP have similar stomach problems that may allow air to enter the stomach more easily?

For those interested, my SMART CPAP in a Virtuoso LX from Respironics. The companies address is 1001 Murry Ridge Lane, Murrysville, PA 15668. Phone number is 1-800-345-6443.

I believe doctors should be prescribing the SMART CPAP all the time. Others may not be having gas problems like me. However, why should a solution to OSA be forcing air in you all the time even when you don't need it? You should only have air forced in you when you need it. I believe using the SMART CPAP would help a lot of folks relax before going to bed without the onslaught of air forcing itself in you.

I will be glad to answer questions others may have. Feel free to email me or respond to this message.

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