I feel like I'm suffocating using the CPAP

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I feel like I'm suffocating using the CPAP

Postby just4lizzy » Thu May 27, 2010 10:31 am

I have gotten used to sleeping with the CPAP in terms of comfort, but I keep getting woken up feeling like I can't breathe. I notice that while I'm awake, the air pressure kind of stops me from fully exhaling so there's not enough room in my lungs to breathe in fresh air each time. After a while, the air feels really stale, and I start getting a headache. At first, I was thinking that perhaps the pressure is too strong, but then I also noticed that when I'm about to fall asleep, I'm still able to slow my breathing so much it almost stops. I haven't been using my CPAP much because of this problem, and when I don't use it at all, I get sleepy all day again! I'm using a Philips RemStar Pro. Are there settings perhaps that I can change on the machine to make it more sensitive to my inhaling vs. exhaling?
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Postby ApexAZ » Thu May 27, 2010 12:59 pm

Hi just4lizzy,

Welcome to the forums. You have come to the right place :)

Can you give us a little bit more details?

What model is the machine? Is it a system one? mseries?
What type of machine is it? CPAP, BiPAP, APAP, etc?
What is your prescribed pressure?
What type of mask are you using and is it beat up?
Can you breath in your mask without the machine running?

With more information we may be able to give you some ideas.
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Postby xenosfrog » Thu May 27, 2010 1:24 pm

Hi just4lizzy: Since you have the Remstar pro it should be recording a significant amount of information on the SD card which pushes into the slot in the back of the machine. You need to take that card to either your sleep/pulmonary doc or the DME and get a complete report printed out and evaluated by your sleep doc. That might tell what is going on. My doc indicated that sometimes CPAP or BiPAP can prevent obstructive sleep apneas (OSAs) but cause a change to central sleep apneas (CSAs). CSAs are when your nervous system does not tell your body to breath when you are asleep. That could just be from the CPAP pressure or could indicate complex sleep apnea. Respironics indicates that Pro can differentiate between OSAs and open airway apneas (OAs) which may be CSAs. Your doc should be able to review the report and see if you are having apneas with the CPAP and what kind.

Did you have a sleep study to titrate you to the proper pressure? I can just relate my experience. During the titration study, when the pressure was too high, I quit breathing and woke up suffocating. When my doc reviewed the study he saw that at a lower pressure the OSAs were gone and there was not an increase in CSAs, so he prescribed a pressure there (8 cm). That is working well. You really need to let your sleep/pulmonary doc know, right away, what is going on. If you are stopping breathing for any length of time, your blood oxygen could drop significantly and the carbon dioxide builds up but the body either does sense that right away or respond to it like it is supposed to. That is when I felt like I was suffocating (I was). It is important that you get this addressed and resolved. Scott
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Postby just4lizzy » Thu May 27, 2010 2:19 pm

wow... thanks. that was a very informative reply haha. Well my appointment is in July, I'm going to try to move it up. I did have the titration sleep study and they put me on 6 cm

I actually got the machine and mask in March. I didn't really have this problem in the beginning though... Maybe something changed? But thanks guys :)
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Postby xenosfrog » Thu May 27, 2010 6:12 pm

just4lizzy: sorry i didnt pay enough attention to the end of your 1st message. :oops: There IS a way to adjust the machine to let you exhale much easier! The System Ones, including the Pro have Cflex. When Cflex is on, when you begin to exhale, the machine will cause the pressure to drop a little, to make exhaling easier. I got a replacement machine once that did not have it set to enabled and I couldn't tolerate it. I don't have my machine right here now, but i'll try and remember: You need to check settings, then turn the button to highlight Cflex and then press the button. Cflex must be "enabled". If not, you may need to take it to your DME or have them send a rep by to enable it. If it is enabled, you can set it at 1, the least drop or 2 or 3, with, I think, 3 giving the most pressure dip to allow you to exhale easier. You can actually hear and feel the drop when you exhale. You can turn the button until Cflex demo is highlighted and push the button to try it. Let us know how you make out! Scott
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Postby just4lizzy » Thu May 27, 2010 10:22 pm

O.O I checked my machine and apparently the CFlex is already on 3. Apparently it's not good enough for me? Well My appointment is now this Tuesday, so I'll suppose I'll wait till then :/

and hahah no worries! :D
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Postby xenosfrog » Thu May 27, 2010 10:36 pm

Thats great you have appointment moved up. maybe something has changed and your doc will be able to readily identify it. Best wishes.
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Postby Janknitz » Fri May 28, 2010 7:32 pm

The other thing that can make you feel like you are suffocating is when the bottom pressure is too low. Often you will be started out with a bottom pressure of 4 (the lowest it can go) on the theory that's where it will be when you are awake and not having apneas. Some professionals believe that there should be NO pressure at all when you are awake, forgetting that you are sealed inside a mask that limits the air you can get in and out when there is no positive pressure airflow.

WELL, I feel like I'm suffocating at 4. That is TOO low!!!!!!!! My top pressure is 13, and I feel much more comfortable with my bottom pressure within 3 or 4 cms of that--now my bottom pressure is set at 9 and I am very comfortable with that.

So, if they look at your card and there are no centrals or anything else to indicate a problem, ask them to bump up your bottom pressure to narrow the range a bit from your top pressure. My bet is that you will feel much more comfortable with a higher starting pressure.
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