Monday, May 23, 2011

Sleep apnea and face Farts

I have sleep apnea. I am one of millions of people in the world that suffer from this condition. Most people are aware of the basic concept of apnea but for those that aren't sleep apnea is a condition where the person will actually stop breathing while they sleep. It is measured by "episodes" per hour. The more episodes a person has, the worst case they have. I was measured out at over 130 episodes an hour. Yeah, I would stop breathing over 2 times a minute. My pulmonologist said that I have the worst case of apnea that he has ever seen. Usually the person will start breathing again on their own because it often causes the person to wake up. Sometimes they are aware of it, other times they aren't. They just wake up in the morning feeling groggy, un-rested, and exhausted. It is the most common cause of restless sleep.

Most people don't even realize that they suffer from sleep apnea and that can cause some serious issues. The number one symptom of sleep apnea is SNORING. If you snore like a freight train then there is a good chance that you have sleep apnea. Other symptoms include;
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Falling asleep at work or home
Waking up feeling unrefreshed
Memory and concentration problems
Personality changes
Restless sleep
Morning or night headaches
Heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth at night
Swelling of the legs
Getting up at night to urinate.
Sweating and chest pains while you sleep
Restless tossing and turning during sleep.
Nighttime choking or gasping spells.

Sleep apnea affects children as well. If you have children that suffer from some of the following symptoms then they may have sleep apnea.

In children younger than 5, symptoms include mouth breathing, snoring, sweating, restlessness, and waking up a lot.
In children 5 years and older, symptoms include snoring, bed wetting, doing poorly in school, and not growing as quickly as they should for their age. These children may also have behavior problems and a short attention span.
Children who have sleep apnea nearly always snore. But they may not appear to be excessively sleepy during the day (a key symptom in adults). The only symptom of sleep apnea in some children may be that they do not grow as quickly as they should for their age.
Although rare, sleep apnea can cause some children to suffer some developmental delays and sleep apnea and can cause failure of the right side of the heart (cor pulmonale)

Most people don't understand that apnea is a serious problem and that it can cause some other life threatening conditions. Sleep apnea can cause your blood oxygen levels to drop which in turn causes the heart work harder and pump faster. This causes extra strain on the heart. Left untreated sleep apnea can cause;
Enlarged heart
Congestive heart failure.
Sleep deprivation 
High blood pressure
coronary artery disease
stroke and sudden death.
Weight gain. People often think that being overweight causes apnea but they have found that weight gain is actually a symptom of apnea. Since the oxygen levels in your blood decrease it slows your metabolism down, hindering the body's ability to digest food. Thereby causing weight gain.

Now that all of that has been said, sleep apnea IS treatable with either a CPAP machine (Continuous Passive  Airway Pressure) or a BIPAP (Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure) machine. These are little machines that force air through a face mask that you wear to make sure that you don't quit breathing.The machines are programmable to each person so that they provide the correct amount of pressure for each persons needs.

My purpose of this blog was to get into the symptoms and affects of sleep apnea. I had gone un-diagnosed for several years. In had gotten a sleep study done at one time but I never got the results back. I ended up in the hospital from before getting the results back. Only after my brother suffer a heart attack, get diagnosed with a severely enlarged heart and congestive heart failure because HE had gone un-diagnosed for years, did I decide to get re-tested. I feel like it is my responsibility to put these warnings out there.
The masks look funny but they are surprisingly comfortable to wear. They don't interfere with sleeping and as long as you have a hose long enough, you can roll anyway you want. The mask are strapped to the head with headgear that goes around the temple and jaw and fasten in front. The headgear is adjustable. Too tight and it hurts, too loose and it doesn't seal right.

Now you have to understand, these machines put out A LOT of airflow and that's where the 2nd part of the story comes into play. My bi-pap is set at about 27PSI. More than a hairdryer. The problem that I run into is that eventually the headgear starts to stretch and when it does it pushes the mask out juuust enough that it starts farting. Now I don't mean little old lady fluffs. I don't mean little squeaky toots. I don't mean the little dainty puffs. I mean loud, obnoxious, full blown wake my wife out of a dead sleep, echo through the still night air, enough to make a sailor blush, FARTS. It sounds like a group of construction workers leaving the finals of a 3 day chili eating contest. Thank God that there is no smell associated with these because the sound alone is enough to instill fear in the young hearts of men and send women and children screaming into the night.. And it isn't one, it is every time I exhale. And what really sucks is that they tickle. The vibration of the mask against my cheek, tickles. So then I start to laugh and it sounds like an old man with the walking farts. I try to roll over or adjust the mask to get it to stop but the only way is to stop the machine, take the mask off, turn on the light, adjust the headgear and try it back on and hope for the best. So I spent a majority of my time last night getting woke up by mask farting.


I have a sad addendum to add to this blog. I originally posted this in May of 2011. I have warned many friends and others about the dangers of sleep apnea. I have urged people to get help and one of those was my dear friend Greg Honeywell. Greg suffered from many of the symptoms listed above and I begged him for years to go get a sleep study and get tested for apnea. He poo pooed the idea and never took it serious. On October 16th 2013, Greg was found dead in bed. He was 56 years old. He lived alone and had been dead for a couple of days. The coroner stated that Greg passed away on Friday night or Saturday morning.  He didn't have a set work schedule, he came and went as he pleased and worked his appointments. He missed a couple of appointments over the weekend but it wasn't until Wednesday, after several co-workers and clients mentioned that they hadn't seen him, did people get worried. They concluded, after his autopsy, that Greg had died from an apnea episode. He quit breathing and didn't start back up again. If he had been on a bi-pap, he'd still be alive.

Please, Please, PLEASE. If you suffer from any of the above symptoms (besides the farting) go see your Dr. immediately. Especially your children. Sleep apnea is nothing to fool around with. It is dangerous, it is deadly and it is completely treatable. If someone you know suffers from these symptoms, don't let up until they get checked. It really is a matter of life or death. I wish that there was something more that I could have done help Greg. R.I.P friend.

Thanks for reading


  1. I'm surprised that Julie hasn't smothered you in your sleep........ ;)

  2. Roy, thanks for the info :)
    I have had sleep apnea for years and did not realize it until this last year when I would wake up, not breathing and take several steps across the room thinking I was having a heart attack and then finally I would breath and everything was back to normal, scary stuff. Sometimes I wake up the very minute I fall asleep because I stop breathing and this will repeat several times before I finally sleep. I was recently in California for two weeks and was working with a guy that wears a CPAP and he let me try it on, It didn't seem like it would help but that is because it was not set up for me. He says he had no idea how crappy he felt until he started using it and now feels twenty years younger.
    I scheduled a sleep study and due to my traveling work I have missed three scheduled appointments. I appreciate the links to different devices and I can't wait to get my machine.

  3. Anonymous.

    I am so glad to hear that my blog helped. Sleep apnea is a condition that I am very passionate about. It goes undagnosed and untreated by so many people. And it's not the doctors that sre missing it. It is the people themselves. They tend to not take it seriously. I never knew that it could cause the longterm and often fatal conditions that it does. Knowing that I have helped just ONE person makes posting this blog worth it. I was concerned when I posted it that people would blow it off as boring, not worth the read and I was tempted to skip the information and go straight to the ending but I just felt that people needed to know just how serious this conditon is.

    Thanks for your comment and I hope you follow my post

  4. hey big roy,
    thx so much for the info...i'm gonna have lisa ask her dr about getting tested! the symptoms you described sound a LOT like things affecting her!!
    great job...thx again!! :D

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