Rethink: SOAP

September 27th, 2011

I’ve always had eczema. Severely dry, red, flaky, itchy, nasty looking skin. Even after using topical steroids, the scars of eczema remain as dark brown patches on my skin. It seems like my condition will never go away, but I have made some major changes which have really helped with eczema. Here’s one: I have given up soap for daily bathing.

Why? The head dermatologist at my local Kaiser suggested to try it out after several unsuccessful treatments for what turned out to be contact eczema.

When? Going on about 6 months now.

Result? I feel “cleaner”, go figure! I don’t know if we really need to remove these natural oils that our skin works so hard to produce. It almost seems like I was washing my skin off with soap. I had a case of contact eczema which went away pretty quickly after ditching daily soap, however the typical eczema is still around. It isn’t nearly as bad now compared to before. The daily routine now includes no soap or lotion. It’s so easy to travel now!

And nobody else knows but me. And you. Give it a shot for a few months. It can’t really hurt to try it out… you will be saving your precious skin, time, and money! It’ll be our dirty little secret.

Flexifit 406 & 407

October 2nd, 2010

Sizing
The Phillips Respironics Flexifit 405 has proven to be a comfortable CPAP mask for me for several years. To accommodate a wider range of users, they included two sizes of silicone seals with every mask: a small one and a large one. Most users could only use one of these seals. The new generation of the old Flexi Fit 405 have broken out the mask into two different products: the FlexiFit 406 and the FlexiFit 407. The FlexiFit 406 is the “petite” model which is equivalent to the small silicone seal in the Flexifit405 and the Flexifit407 is similar to the larger size of the large seal included with the Flexifit 405 nasal CPAP mask.

The Good
One of the best features of the FlexiFit 405 is the glider bar that allows a greater range of movement for the CPAP user. The Flexifit 406 and 407 both include this feature. They advertise a new diffuser mechanism that doesn’t require the old white diffuser flexifit-405-diffuser and is supposed to allow the user to get closer to their partner since it is supposed to be quieter and direct the air away from the other person in bed. This is great in theory, but read on to the bad. The narrower seal makes a smaller contact patch with the face which seems to reduce the contact patch with the face while still increasing the chance that the mask stays sealed on your face. I once woke up with only three of the four straps attached and the seal was still not broken!

The Bad
I really wished that this mask diffused the air away from my partner as advertised. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t. I still can’t face her, and I’m stuck sleeping to the left as usual. The air blows out pretty hard for about a foot in front of it, and you have to be about two feet away from it to feel nothing! That’s terrible, in fact it’s pretty much in the same league as the old FlexiFit 405. Maybe they should try a design out that blows the air in a different direction for a change.
I don’t like how the top strap attachments on the mask changed from a U shape to a C shape. The top straps now come off much more often with the C shape attachment, which is definitely not a good thing, but somewhat acceptable given the better seal overall. The mask would probably be better with the old U shape clips that are still found on the bottom.
The new Flexifit 406 mask (the petite/small size) seems about the same loudness as the old Flexifit 405. I expected some noise reduction but there isn’t any perceptible difference.

Thumbs Up
Overall the new FlexiFit 406 and 407 do provide better seals than their predecessor the FlexiFit 405. The diffuser part has also been eliminated which is a tiny win for the environment since it seemed like it wasn’t entirely necessary. Unfortunately the new masks don’t deliver in providing less noise and less discomfort to the other person in bed since the exhaust airflow will still remain a problem for both parties in bed.

FlexiFit 405 Replacement Parts

October 2nd, 2010

I have been using the Respironics FlexiFit 405 CPAP Mask for several years now and I have noticed that the part that wears out the fastest is this gray foam piece that sits between the plastic mask and the silicone seal:flexifit405-foam. After several months of daily use, this part starts to disintegrate and little gray pieces of material start falling off. Since this is the part that wears out the fastest, one would think that this part should be available by itself to CPAP patients through their medical provider to reduce costs. My health care provider will only send out new masks, not parts from a mask such as this. So I have about half a dozen or so of these masks sitting around while I really only needed one mask and 6 or 7 of these foam things. One problem here is that the little part costs more than the copay for the entire mask! However if the insurance provider decided to sell off this replacement foam part then they would definitely be incurring some major cost savings. You’re wasting money Apria Healthcare.

SnoreSilencer Pro

July 12th, 2010

snore-silencer-pro
The SnoreSilencer Pro manufactured by Phillips Respironics is a boil and bite type of mandibular advancement appliance with custom qualities but without the expense of a custom made dental device specifically made to reduce snoring. It kills the cost associated with the time interaction required by manufacturing process of the dental lab. Sleep apnea patients can also use this CPAP device alternative the same night it is fitted. This snore stopping device utilizes patented hinge technology and light formed material to provide the ultimate in comfort without the outrageously overpriced and unnecessary dental lab fabrication. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine study parameters have recommended this type of dental appliance therapy as a the first possible treatment for snoring or mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. This alternative to CPAP therapy is currently only sold in U.S. and Canada.

Philips Respironics System One

July 12th, 2010

respironics-system-one

Overview
Philips Respironics System One takes advantage of meliorate intelligence to deliver the highest quality care and enable patients to manage their CPAP usage more effectively. Respironics consistently brings forth intelligent tools for sleep lab professionals to help them succeed in this complex environment. With through customer input they present the latest technology in a series of prehensile therapy devices that cogitate and perform the way they should for sleep apnea patients. The Respironics System 1 is designed to provide more than therapy. It will intelligently and precisely deliver what CPAP patients need in the modern homecare environment. The PR System One provides new, more detailed levels of control, compliance and efficiency.

CPAP Humidity Control
system-1-humidity-control
Even when the CPAP machine environment changes, the humidification level of this CPAP device is protected throughout the night with the advanced technology humidity control feature. The Respironics System One produces optimum humidity and crowning comfort levels to the CPAP therapy user and also reduces the rainout phenonenon by using data from the room’s ambient temperature, humidity and the CPAP device’s user’s air flow rate.

Resistance Control
system-one-resistance-control
System One Resistance Control creates unmitigated patient comfort by making the CPAP device and mask able to function optimally in synchronization. With easy to use settings this technology allows the device to deliver dynamic resistance to compensate for every user’s different CPAP mask. This harmonious combination creates perfect pressure delivery to sleep apnea suffers. This new CPAP technology takes further advantage of the FLEX technology.

FLEX Technology
The clinically proven, natural technologies that heighten traditional pressure therapy with C Flex, Bi Flex, A Flex, and C Flex in the Phillips Respironics fixed advanced CPAP machines improve comfort to encourage more frequent use by the CPAP patient. Clinical tests indicate patients using Flex take advantage of their CPAP therapy an average of over four hours per night at 30 and 90 days when compared with an average of less than four hours per night when compared regular CPAP devices. Flex allows the patient to breathe easier by reducing the pressure on the exhalation segment of the CPAP cycle.

summary
This new CPAP therapy system gives a wide range of sleep apnea therapy options all types of sleep apnea patients including those with mild cases as well as those with extremely difficult snoring problems that require constant treatment modification. The System One advanced event detection software and reporting capabilities that are available via web interface. Philips Respironics Sleep Therapy System can diagnose and inform when a patient might have symptoms that are more sever than obstructive sleep apnea. A intellectual 3 layer algorithm recoginzes the difference between obstructed and unobstructed airway path apneas and cyclic breathing. Sleep professionals can now enjoy ease of access to sleep assessment parameters and reports previously only found on dedicated sleep diagnostic machines. These respiratory events are verified by examining sleep apneas patient flow waveform data. Many options exist for data transfer from the CPAP therapy device including standard SD memory cards (also used in compact digital cameras like those made by Canon), and even wired (LAN) and wireless access. These new Phillips CPAP devices now have standard memory storage included that stores up to six months of compliance data 7 and 30 day averages along with five days of patient waveforms.

Stop Snoring

June 10th, 2010

Snoring is a common problem amongst between 30 to 50 percent of Americans according to our trusty old friend Wikipedia. I can say with confidence that I belong in this group of snorers.
Snoring can definitely become more detectable in certain situations. I have noticed that I snore the most often when sleeping on my back, and the loudness (some would even say “deepness”) of snoring can be increased with excessive alcohol consumption (which I’m also a pro at). I did not think my snoring was an issue until I started sharing a bed with the lady. Apparently it’s not easy sleeping next to someone that is producing sounds between 30 and 60 decibels which is the typical volume of a snore. I actually noticed I was snoring because I can snore so loud on my back that I can wake myself up! A rare talent, I know.

There are many devices in existence that are available to combat snoring. I have tried many of these different methods and although everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa, here’s a list of what I have tried:

  1. Breathe Right Nasal Strips

    This is a relatively old invention that many professional athletes still swear by. It is a relatively simple product in theory: open up the nasal passages to allow more air into your body. The adhesives on the Breath Rite strips sticks on to the upper part of your nose so you can get more air with every breath.
    Unfortunately this product did not work for me. Yeah it did make me look cool since I was going to bed looking like a pro football player but it didn’t do a thing for my snoring.
  2. Mouth Guards/Mouth Pieces for Snoring

    I picked up a “boil n bite” type of mouth guard from eBay to protect my enamel from damage as a result of the teeth grinding (a side effect of CPAP) that started when I started using CPAP therapy. I didn’t have any knowledge of these dental devices that were specifically made to prevent snoring at the time so once the grinding stopped in about a week I simply stopped using the mouth guard.
    Since there are currently many manufacturers of these new dental type anti-snoring devices, I opted to try out this old eBay mouth piece to see what it would do for my snoring (without the CPAP machine of course) and I think it is actually somewhat effective in reducing snoring. I cannot say that it can be a replacement for those on CPAP therapy because of sleep apnea however it did reduce snoring according to the wife. I now take a mouthguard with me on vacation since lugging around the Remstar M-Series along with the tubing and mask a little annoying while on a trip.
    These mouthguards/mouthpieces are another tool of the trade for some athletes. A properly designed mouthguard or mouthpiece can actually reduce snoring from my experience. Here’s the concept: position the jaw slightly forward to stop the top of the mouth from collapsing and closing up the airway. It works, but I don’t have confidence that it works as well as CPAP sleep therapy. I don’t get that “fully rested” feeling in the morning with the mouth guard, but with my Remstar sleep apnea machine I feel well rested and refreshed when I wake up.
  3. Snore Sprays

    Anti-snoring sprays are also abundant. The concept here is to lube the tissues that are rubbing against each other to prevent the snoring sound. While in theory this may help with the annoying sound, it doesn’t address the issue of airflow into the user’s lungs. Sleep Apnea sufferers should probably not consider any of these sprays effective treatment. Snorers with no evidence of sleep apnea (rare) may find these products useful.
    Now I can’t say that I’ve tried any of these products first hand but I will review these products if given the opportunity.

A couple of years with daily CPAP therapy has proven to be the most effective treatment for my snoring and sleep apnea. Proper maintenance and cleaning of the equipment is essential for proper use. Take care of your sleep apnea supplies and they will take care of you! Proper maintenance and cleaning of the sleep apnea equipment is essential to receive the maximum benefits. Take care of your CPAP supplies and they will take care of you!

Teeth Grinding on CPAP

June 10th, 2010

CPAP therapy can be very effective treatment of Sleep Apnea. Unfortunately the technology hasn’t gotten to the point where CPAP machines are whisper quiet so new CPAP users have to get acclimated with the noise and equipment all over the place.

It can take a long time to get used to CPAP therapy, and beginners to CPAP can oftentimes experience trouble sleeping even though this medical device is designed to help its users get better quality rest.

One possible side effect of CPAP is the potential for teeth grinding. I think I experienced this because of the stress of trying to fall asleep with all this stuff attached to my head and hearing the machine. While the Remstar M series CPAP machine is a relataively quiet machine, it still makes some audible noise which can be hard to tune out in the initial stages of treatment. I was wondering how CPAP was making my jaw hurt, and after investing about 10 bucks on an mouthguard from eBay I soon found out that I was indeed grinding my teeth while on CPAP. There really isn’t anything positive about grinding teeth. One could result in chipped teeth or a cracked tooth or two with extreme grinding.

I only needed the mouthguard for a few weeks. The teeth grinding went away as I got used to sleeping with CPAP. The teeth grind side effect that I experienced on CPAP therapy seemed to be temporary since I haven’t needed it ever since the first and only instance of grinding.

Does CPAP Use Cause Hiccups?

May 26th, 2010

Maybe. I can definitely say that I’ve experienced more frequent hiccups in the morning following routine CPAP treatment.
homer-snore-converter
I was on vacation in Hawaii and didn’t use my Remstar M Series CPAP machine for 10 days. My snoring seems a little lighter there, maybe it’s due to the higher humidity. I used a regular mouthguard (as opposed to a CPAP mouth piece that is specifically designed to prevent snoring) which was actually effective in stopping my snoring on this trip. Upon returning to the mainland I immediately went back to CPAP and the next morning got the hiccups. It doesn’t happen all the time, however it does seem to happen more often in the morning right after a night of CPAP therapy.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend replacing conventional CPAP therapy with a regular mouth guard without checking with a doctor or sleep specialist. I still feel more rested after a night with the CPAP machine versus the mouth guard given the same duration of sleep.

CPAP Mask Cleaner

May 25th, 2010

I just started using Dr. Bronner’s Castile Hemp soap for everything including cleaning my CPAP equipment.


I’ve got to say this is the best soap that I have ever used because it seems like even my eczema has improved since I started using it. Previously I’ve used Dove bar soap (for that 1/4 moisturizing cream of course) since one of my doctors over at Kaiser Permanente recommended it many years ago.

It turns out this soap can be used daily to clean CPAP masks and CPAP equipment like the tubing because it doesn’t leave any soap residue behind which makes a bad seal and results in annoying air leaks. There is really no need to buy any special CPAP wipes or CPAP equipment cleaner. Just a couple drops of Dr. Bronner’s soap and some warm water works great for daily cleaning.

Squeaky CPAP Mask

April 19th, 2010

Sunday is usually the night that it is most difficult for me to get to sleep. Maybe it’s the stress of the work week ahead, or maybe this light insomnia simply marks the end of a really relaxing weekend. In any event, as I’m slowly drifting off into sleep with my CPAP mask on, I hear a loud squeal or squeak of air shoot out of one of the cracks of the CPAP mask. Of course this loud burst of air was only heard at that oh so special moment of time right when I’m just about to fall to sleep; not a second before. So I just shrug it off and try again. But alas the same sound squeaks out and wakes me up again!

The squeaky sound was familiar-it was the sound that is made when the plastic parts swivel and touch other plastic parts. For some reason this sound is more prevalent at certain times, like right before falling asleep. Thoroughly annoyed, I went over the possible lubricants in my head: oil, cooking spray, or soap. I recently started using Dr. Bronner’s Castile liquid soap to replace my old Dove soap to ease my eczema itching and I noticed that it is very interesting stuff. It is very slippery and soapy so I took a toothpick and put 1-2 drops on each connector of the mask where plastic to plastic action occurs. The difference is immediately apparent since twisting of the CPAP mask connectors before applying the lubrication resulted in a somewhat quieter although similar toned squeak. End result: the sound of air escaping out of the tiny cracks of the mask disappeared and I was off to sleep another night.

I am currently using a Fisher Paykel FlexiFit 405 nasal CPAP mask which is also used for BIPAP. Here are the two spots that I oiled up:
flexifit405-loud

I have used a drop of cooking oil in the past to solve this problem of the sound air escaping out of the plastic connectors of the CPAP mask however I figured since I have this great smelling Dr Bronners Castile soap then I might as well give it a shot. If it didn’t work I could have simply rinsed it off and used another lubricant. More to come on eczema treatment.

CPAP Storage

April 17th, 2010

Long term CPAP therapy produces numerous benefits for both the Sleep Apnea patient as well as their significant other. While the other person in bed might be sleeping better with the CPAP equipment preventing snoring, they may find the abundance of bedside paraphernalia unsightly. To keep things under control it’s helpful to corral everything into a proper box or container. Here is a shot of the all of the stuff next to the bed: CPAP machine, CPAP mask, CPAP tubing, and additional silicone seals for the mask.

cpap-before-storage

A huge mess indeed. Now let’s dump all of this medical equipment into a box and things are starting to look much better:

This box was a sufficient solution for a few months but when we recently purchased a storage bed we noticed a great benefit: we could just shove everything into one of the drawers. Take a look at it now:

cpap-in-drawer

The finished product is a clean bedroom no evidence of any CPAP equipment! Let’s close that drawer:

hidden-cpap

The storage bed is from West Elm. The cool thing about the full size bed is that you can actually fit a queen mattress on it if space is tight. The West Elm store actually had this queen mattress/full size storage bed on display. The mattress and the edges of the bed end up being flush and the ledge disappears.

My Snoring Solution review

February 4th, 2010

There’s a product out there called “my snoring solution” that is NOT FDA APPROVED for sleep apnea.

In my opinion using this product can cause additional health problems instead of treating snoring. Teeth grinding can occur from using something like this. That can result in tooth enamel loss and headaches.

This looks like an inferior, poor quality product that is simply aimed at taking people’s money instead of helping people with their snoring problems or sleep apnea. By the way the inventor of the device is just that: an inventor. He is in no way certified to practice medicine.

News Articles on the website
Don’t be fooled by the legitimate news articles that are posted on the website. They are legitimate articles from CNN and REUTERS however they do not endorse the My Snoring Solution product.

“My Snoring Solution – Featured on TV Medical Show”
Wow really? Featured on TV Medical Show? Hmm is this Oprah? Dr. Oz? The Doctors? No. Maybe it was a paid advertisement AKA an INFOMERCIAL.

Not Available in Stores
Doctors would prescribe this equipment if it was an effective treatment for sleep apnea however there are no doctors that do so.
If this were a reputable product it might be found at a retailer such as Walmart, CVS Pharmacies, Walgreens, or Long’s Drug Stores.

PLEASE DO NOT TRY THIS PRODUCT WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL!!!

In case you missed it, here’s the disclaimer at the bottom of the website:

The statements and claims made about our product have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (U.S.).
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
Testimonials appearing on this site reflect real life experiences of those who have used our products. However, results may vary.

Helpful Guidelines For CPAP Use

November 24th, 2009
  • Before applying the mask, wash the area around the nose with Sunlight dish soap and water. Any other mild soap like Ivory or Joy is ok, don’t use detergents that leave a residue.
  • When using CPAP, avoid applying oil, oil products or cream moisturizers in or around your nose.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids through out the day.
  • The air from the CPAP machine may cause dryness in the nostrils, if this occurs, use saline spray once in the morning and once at night before bed.
  • Once a week, wash the headgear, mask, tubing and sponge filters with water and a few drops of mild soap.
  • Try not to over tighten the headgear because it may result in nose sores or irritated skin around the nose.
  • Remember that it might take a while to get used to the CPAP machine. It can be awkward and uncomfortable for months, but stick with it and over time you’ll feel the benefits of using CPAP.

Tightness / fitting of your CPAP mask

December 16th, 2008

The more often you use your CPAP equipment, the more often it will need to be cleaned, adjusted, and eventually replaced. After a month or two of using the same mask you may find that the mask fits differently. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as necessary.

My mask became looser over the course of just two weeks and required adjustment of the headband to keep it from leaking air. It fit snugly and leak free when I was on the ramp mode and falling asleep however when the full pressure of my CPAP machine came on some leaks developed. Even minor leaks can ruin your sleep. Now I make sure that my CPAP mask is a little tighter before going to sleep to ensure a good night’s rest.

Try to keep your mask on all night even if you wake up in the middle of the night. If your Sleep Apnea machine has a ramp feature (lower initial pressure that ramps up to the prescribed pressure) then you may want to hit that button to help you get back to sleep if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night. I definitely notice a difference if I keep the mask on longer.

CPAP Treatment when sick or ill

December 16th, 2008

I’m a regular CPAP user and I definitely notice a difference when on Sleep Apnea therapy versus without it. I’m definitely more tired if I don’t have a full night of sleep with the CPAP machine.

There have been times when I’ve been sick (either a cold or flu) and had a runny nose. This does definitely impact how long I can keep my mask on. In fact since I have a mild case of sleep apnea I actually don’t use the CPAP equpiment at all when I’m sick. I find that it’s almost impossible to sleep while sniffling through my sleep apnea mask. Even though I’m not as rested without using any sleep apnea unit, I find that I can actually fall asleep without it when I’m sick. When I’ve recovered from my illness I’m definitely back on CPAP therapy.

Respironics M Series Heated Humidifier Review-almost

November 20th, 2008

I recently purchased this heated humidifier add-on for my remstar m series CPAP machine. Right after reading the instructions I decided that this piece of CPAP equipment was not for me.

The heated humidifier would provide some moist warm air that might make the cold dry winter nights more comfortable. First off it says not to put this unit directly on top of carpet. My CPAP machine is currently on the carpet and there’s no other place to put it. Secondly, this unit requires DAILY cleaning of the water tank or bacteria could grow. The daily cleaning would become burdensome quickly.

It’s really not that cold here in San Francisco. Maybe if I lived in a colder place I would have given this a shot.

CPAP Therapy Side Effects

July 12th, 2008

Many people with sleep apnea that are new to CPAP equipment will do some online research to find out what side effects certain users experience. Here are a few that I have personally experienced:

  • Chronic nose bleeds / nose bleeding: This doesn’t sound as bad as it really was. There wouldn’t be a lot of blood at all; just a tiny bit almost every day (noticed when blowing my nose). However it was reoccurring and became a little annoying. I thought that it would never end but after about 6 months of CPAPing it just magically went away. My sleep lab technition recommended not heated humidifier because he said it may increase the risk of of infection (it may be more difficult to keep your equipment clean with the heated humidifier) so I just rode it out.
  • Teeth grinding / jawing: I don’t believe that this is a direct side effect of CPAP but I have a theory about this. You need to get used to Sleep Apnea therapy and it could take weeks or even months. After the first few weeks of starting CPAP I noticed minor headaches as well as jaw and teeth soreness and I couldn’t figure out why it was happening. This was only a temporary problem which I solved by purchasing a cheap mouth guard (one of the boil and bite types) which I used while sleeping for maybe 2 weeks. I stopped grinding my teeth and have never had to use it since. My theory is that I was stressed out because I normally have a difficult time getting to sleep and bringing CPAP supplies into the equation wasn’t helping. Some time is needed to get used to the sounds of the sleep apnea unit to alleviate this problem.
  • Dry mouth / throat dryness: I used to have a glass of water by my bed occasionally since I would get thirsty during the night sometimes. Now with daily CPAP therapy I make sure I have water by my side every night because my mouth and throat get dry. It’s not severe just taking a sip of water if i wake up helps to remedy this side effect of CPAP.

CPAP can be very strange for beginner users. There are strange sounds introduced into your sleeping environment that previously didn’t exist. You may be breathing differently if you’re used to breathing through your mouth. There can be pressure on certain parts of your face and head to secure the equipment. Some people get used to this faster than others so be patient and hopefully your efforts will pay off.

The benefits of CPAP therapy greatly outweigh the potential side effects. It took a while to get used to it, but now I’m getting a much better night’s sleep and I wake up feeling fully rested now! I never thought I could feel so “awake” after waking up, but this is now typical because of CPAP.

Respironics ComfortClassic Nasal Mask review (small)

June 29th, 2008

The ComfortClassic CPAP mask is an inexpensive mask that is ok for occasional use. I have it around for a backup when I don’t have time to throughly clean and dry my normal equipment however I don’t think it’s the best mask out there. I tried one out for about a month when I first got my CPAP machine and here are my findings:
Positives:

  • inexpensive
  • somewhat quiet, maybe a 3 out of 5, 5 being super quiet
  • gel forehead pad could potentially be comfortable because of the material (but read on to the negatives)
  • comes in small or large size (this can be a negative if you don’t know your size)

Negatives:

  • parts are not really removable (gel forehead pad and seal that goes around your nose are stuck on the mask)
  • doesn’t have a slider bar so the mask may stay in place while you turn your head so it’s easy to have an air leak
  • single small forehead pad (made of gel) can create more pressure on the forehead compared to larger pads or multiple pads

Overall I’d give this mask about a 2 out of 5. It’s ok, but I wouldn’t order another one since there are better options available.

Normal Care and Maintenance of your CPAP Equipment

June 3rd, 2008

You should be using your CPAP machine (and mask) daily to treat your sleep apnea therefore you must keep your equipment clean for optimal performance. It is highly recommended to clean your mask CPAP daily however this can become burdensome. Masks with removable parts makes for easy daily cleaning. Currently I’m using the Fisher & Paykel Flexifit 405 mask for several reasons:

  1. The silicone seal (the part that makes contact with your face around your nose) is removable
  2. The forehead pads are removable
  3. The foam diffusers are easily replaceable and it comes with 3-4 extras
  4. The glider strap makes this mask very comfortable because you can turn your head and the mask follows

As for daily maintenance, the minimum I’ll do is clean the silicone seal with Joy dishwasher detergent (I never needed to use any type of specialized CPAP cleaner or solution). Since I’m on my 2nd mask, I have 2 seals that I can rotate daily so I only have to do this cleaning every other day.

Although the forehead pads contact my face daily, I only clean them about once every couple of weeks. They slide in and out easily.

I wash the entire mask about once per month. They recommend that you wash it every week, but I don’t have the time.

Switching out the diffuser/filter every month or so is also highly recommended. I noticed that after I saw visible dirt or dust in the diffuser it became more difficult to exhale even though I have C-Flex on my CPAP machine. After switching out the diffuser with a new one I could immediately tell the difference.

Make sure you also clean or replace your CPAP machine filter once every week or so. Keeping your CPAP equipment nice and clean will extend the life of your expensive equipment!

Remstar Plus M Series with C-Flex CPAP Machine Review

May 13th, 2008

I tried 3 CPAP machines before purchasing this Remstar M Series machine from Respironics. It has a small form factor however the power supply is quite large and heavy. If you can hide the power supply then the CPAP machine itself doesn’t take up that much room. Reasons why you would buy this machine:

  1. CFLEX: This feature is a must for me. Basically the machine detects when you are exhaling and reduces the pressure to make exhalation easier. On the M Series this setting is adjustable from off, 1, 2, or 3, with 3 being my preferred setting.
  2. Ramp Feature: All of the Remstar M Series machines come with this ramp feature that reduces the pressure for a set amount of time to help you fall asleep. You can actually adjust this yourself if you go into the settings.
  3. Ease of use: This CPAP machine has the auto on/auto off feature however it does take some time to turn off automatically (mine takes about 30 seconds.) The buttons illuminate with a light blue glow and dim after the machine is turned on.
  4. Low maintenance: The only maintenance I have to perform is cleaning the filter every so often. They recommend every week however I’m lazy and clean it once every few weeks.
  5. Portability: Overall the M Series is small compared to Respironics’ older line of CPAP machines. I’ve used it while traveling for extended periods without any problems. I wouldn’t check it into my baggage though since it’s an expensive piece of equipment.

How to treat Sleep Apnea

March 25th, 2008

I used to think my snoring was normal since I have been snoring for as long as I can remember. My girlfriend would complain often about her migraine headaches however I never put two and two together until these two events:

  1. A massage therapist suggested that the root cause of her tension headaches were related to knots found in her neck and shoulders
  2. She read in a magazine <source unknown> that women that sleep with men that snore are more prone to developing hearing loss and snoring [by their partner] could cause tension headaches!

I decided to get checked out for sleep apnea. I’m not overweight; I’m 5’6, 155 lbs and I go to the gym about 3 times a week. However I was diagnosed with minor sleep apnea after taking a home test from the Kaiser sleep lab.

The options were to go with a CPAP machine or to get surgery. I originally wanted to get surgery however the sleep lab technician quickly talked me out of it. Why? The procedure had a 50% success rate at best and there have been some strange side effects recorded (side effects could occur even if the surgery is not successful). I chose CPAP since it wasn’t permanent.

Like many people I found it extremely difficult to sleep with the CPAP mask and machine in the beginning. I’d say it took about 5 months to really get used to the whole setup, but the results are well worth it.

Now after about a year with CPAP I have noticed the following:

  1. It seems like I’m getting more restful sleep in a shorter amount of time
  2. I take less/shorter nap
  3. [and the most important] My girlfriend no longer has tension headaches on a daily basis!

I would say #3 is the most important reason to try out CPAP if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. If not for yourself, do it for your partner. It’s not permanent like surgery, and if you have the proper insurance (durable medical equipment) you may only pay about 20% of the retail price.

Unlocking the Respironics REMstar M Series CPAP Machine

March 24th, 2008

You can adjust most CPAP machines without a Doctor if you can unlock it. This is especially useful if you purchase your machine second hand and you need to adjust your CPAP machine to your prescription. I’ve seen people SELLING this information on Ebay. Search around on the internet before you pay for free information.

I own a remstar mseries CPAP machine and here is how to get into the menu where you can change the settings:

  1. Unplug the CPAP power supply.
  2. Open the top plastic flip cover
  3. Hold down BOTH arrow buttons
  4. Plug the AC power back in while continuing to hold down the arrow buttons
  5. Release the arrow buttons after you hear two quick beeps

Now you can get into the setup menu by pressing the + button. You will see:

  1. Therapy Mode (not adjustable on my machine)
  2. CPAP Pressure (This is the normal Pressure-put in what your doctor has prescribed for you)
  3. Altitude (1, 2, or 3-I believe 2 and 3 are for higher altitudes; I just leave mine at 1 since I’m at sea level)
  4. Fine Pressure Adjustment (I haven’t ever changed this)
  5. Ramp Time (This is great for fine tuning how long you want the Ramp time to be. I started out with the longest ramp time of 45 minutes and now after CPAPing for a while I’m down to 30 minutes. You shouldn’t have to go to the doctor to adjust this!)
  6. Ramp Start Pressure (My prescription is 7.0 cmH20 and I have my Ramp Start Pressure at 6.0. If you’re just starting out it may be easier to use a lower Pressure initially, maybe even the lowest setting then work your way higher if needed.)
  7. Mask Alert (This will send out some beeps if your mask comes during the night. I leave mine OFF since sometimes it’s hard for me to get back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night.)
  8. Auto OFF (This doesn’t work as well as I want since it takes maybe 30 to 60 seconds for the machine to turn off, and it’s really loud. I usually reach over and just turn it off myself even though I have this feature on.)
  9. Patient Reminder (I don’t use this feature)

You can adjust the C-Flex feature without unlocking it, but it is also available in this unlocked menu.