Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

This section is for spouses of Apnea Patients to provide mutual support.


Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

Postby nightfall » Sun May 30, 2010 10:47 pm

Hi all. I am new to learning about sleep apnea. My husband was recently told he may have it. He has yet to go for any testing. I hope that some of you can help me sort through it all! To give you some background-he is in his early 40s and has been diagnosed with so many different things over the years. I am hoping someone else has had a similar experience and can relate. Forgive me for the length of this post. If you can read through it all and offer some encouragement, I'd be grateful.

We've been married for 18 years and as far back as I can remember, he's been a snorer. Several years ago he began complaining of fatigue. Doctor thought perhaps it was work/stress related and possible chronic fatigue. This then developed into symptoms of diabetes. My husband is not overweight. In fact, he's on the thin side. His diabetes has only ever been managed through diet which he really does not control very well anyway. He often does not have much appetite. With the diabetes diagnosis came periods of fatigue more frequent and lasting longer.

Next came a diagnosis of depression for which he tried several different anti-depressants and alternative chinese medicine. All seem to help for a while AT FIRST. One doctor thought perhaps he was bi-polar. Along with the fatigue he is cranky, easily upset, sometimes to the point of aggressiveness, anger and the worst part - he acts like he's drunk! Add to this that he often sleeps all day on the weekends and most nights falls asleep before the kids too yet he gets up in the morning no problem. He's up before anybody else. When he feels really bad, he often slurs his words yet he is not drinking! It's so embarrassing and frustrating. I know it's not his fault.

Well a few months ago he started getting really bad headaches and was diagnosed with migraines. He also has high blood pressure and slightly elevated cholesterol. He has dealt with a lot of stress over the past few years-he had been unemployed, I'm currently unemployed with 3 kids to support. It's awful. Was sent for an MRI which showed a small stroke. In other people without any of his symptoms, the stroke would be nothing to be concerned about. It's the fact that he has these symptoms that it needs to be explored further. So he went to the stroke prevention clinic, has seen 2 neurologists and one of them sent him to a psychiatrist because he appeared depressed.

Well this psychiatrist is the one who suggested that everything points to sleep apnea. I can accept anything. If this is the correct diagnosis, then we'll deal with it. I'm just tired of making excuses for him when he has to leave a family function early or I see the sneers from people when I say he's tired or when he's acting all "weird." If in fact it is SA, then I support whatever needs to be done. I just cannot believe it's taken more than 10 years! Anybody else out there that can relate to any of this? I was totally shocked that acting drunk was one of the symptoms, yet I can barely find anything on the internet to suggest this. Please help if you can. Thanks
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Postby Dianne » Mon May 31, 2010 2:28 pm

If he voluntarily won't go for a sleep study, tape record his snoring, gasps, lapses in breathing. Play it for him in the morning. If he still won't go for a sleep study, play it for his doctor who will ORDER a sleep study.

Depression, high blood pressure,irregular heartbeat, headaches, exhaustion, strokes, heart attacks, are some of the symptoms of apnea, but the only way to be sure he has it is to have a sleep study.

I don't know much about diabetes and the link to apnea, but there can be a link. Someone else may be able to help with this.

"Along with the fatigue he is cranky, easily upset, sometimes to the point of aggressiveness, anger and the worst part - he acts like he's drunk!"

I COULD be very wrong about this, but...IMHO: You're also describing the symptoms of someone who MAY be drinking- Vodka. Depression and stress could lead to drinking. He could be a closet drinker and you wouldn't smell vodka on his breath. Slurring speech, balance problems, vomiting after eating, sleeping a lot...

Good luck and let us know what happens.
Dianne's: Remstar Auto M, C-flex, smart card. Mask: Swift LT. AHI- 23, lowest blood ox 80%.

John's: Resmed S8 Autoset II w/EPR, Mask: Respironics Profile-lite
severe apnea, Cpap user for more than 20 years.
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Postby nightfall » Mon May 31, 2010 3:26 pm

Thanks for your post. He's definitely going for testing on his own accord. He's very cooperative and will do whatever it takes. That's a non-issue. My husband actually doesn't drink alcohol due to his other health problems and I rarely drink so I've no concerns about him being a closet drinker. Had I been, I'd post in an alcholic abuse support forum :-D

From what I have read, depression, diabetes, migraines (the migraines he gets are the ones that cause drunken behavior - they are somewhat rare but this has been confirmed, though he doesn't get them that frequently anymore since he's started on migraine preventative medication). There is a definite relation between depression/diabetes, diabetes/SA, SA/depression. I have read about the confused, foggy behavior with sleep apnea and I have witnessed his snoring, stopping as if he's not breathing that ends in a loud snort and he has too (someone recorded him a LONG time ago) so all the pieces do seem to be pointing to SA.

I just wondered if anybody else married to someone with sleep apnea had encountered the same thing. I know there are different degrees/types of SA. Just wish we'd figured it out a long time.
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symptoms

Postby graciebelle » Mon May 31, 2010 6:11 pm

Hi nightfall

I'm so glad to hear that your husband is going willingly for his sleep test. The fact is (and I'm new at this myself) there are a wide, wide range of symptoms that can be caused by untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), and until the condition is treated, you don't really have an exact way of knowing that the correct associations are.

My husband has heard me snore for years, and because he was once engaged to someone with sleep apnea, he told me definitively he didn't think I had it. I made a lot of noise but didn't stop breathing, he said. After years of trying to treat the snoring in various ways, I found myself waking up feeling as if I was drowning. My primary care doc sent me immediately for a sleep study, for which I am hugely grateful. Since I have been treated with my CPAP (every time I sleep for two weeks) I have seen changes like:

better mood
lowered blood pressure
decreased appetite, especially for sweets
need for less sleep
improved appearance of my skin (people say I glow)
better ability to handle stress
more optimistic
more energetic
no more snoring (I sleep silently now, just the whooshing sound of the CPAP is all we hear)

Some of these changes would be expected and others maybe not so much. It will be interesting to know about your husband's experience if he is diagonosed and starts treatment. Please keep us posted OK?
Mild Sleep Apnea- AHI 10.4-85% untreated oxygen sat.
Respironics M-Pro w/humidifier Pressure setting: 10
Optilife Nasal Cushions and head gear
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Postby nightfall » Mon May 31, 2010 8:16 pm

I am so happy to read so many posts by people who have been helped with treatment. I hope that this will be the case for my hubby too, if in fact, it does turn out to be sleep apnea. Another symptom I forgot to mention, and I also read this somewhere-he will sometimes be so sleepy that he'll practically fall asleep while he's eating. I am pretty certain it's not narcolepsy though because his sleepiness will always seem to build up during the day.

I honestly don't know how people make it through day after day with this. I can't imagine how tiring it all really is. I guess you don't really know how bad you've been feeling until you actually start to feel better. I guess that's when your realize just how much the whole thing has been affecting you.

I wish everyone the best of luck and good health. Will keep you posted as soon as he's had the test done. It's not been scheduled yet. The report from the psychiatrist is being sent to the neurologist, then the test will be scheduled.
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Falling asleep while eating

Postby graciebelle » Mon May 31, 2010 8:43 pm

My OSA is fairly mild, but I know others who have more severe OSA. One of my friends would fall asleep immediately upon sitting down on the sofa at the end of the day. He was awake, then asleep, in just a minute or so. Since he has gotten treatment he says he feels soooo much better. When Kaiser stopped paying for a CPAP he actually bought one from an estate sale (not recommended-- I'm just telling you how important the CPAP is to my friend) so he wouldn't have to do without.

Another person who used to do work for us in our home routinely went out to his truck at lunch and fell asleep with a sandwich in his hand. He could spend 12 hours at at time in our bathroom and not get a whole heckofalot done. Five years later, he stopped by while I was doing yard work maybe a year ago and said, I have OSA and since treatment I am a NEW MAN. He hugged me and said he couldn't believe how much better he felt since he got his CPAP. I had no idea at the time I had the condition, too.

Once your husband has a sleep study and a treatment plan, things will be more clear. Please do keep us posted on the progress both of you are making, OK?

Best wishes-
Mild Sleep Apnea- AHI 10.4-85% untreated oxygen sat.
Respironics M-Pro w/humidifier Pressure setting: 10
Optilife Nasal Cushions and head gear
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Strange symptoms

Postby the brewer's wife » Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:38 am

I know the original post is almost a year old, but I wanted to post something that may help someone else. The "drunken" behavior is one we've dealt with before. As you might guess from my name, it wouldn't be unusual for people to assume my husband was drunk! This type of behavior really only happens when he's really tired and in an environment where he's relaxed. He's been know to say some of the most bizarre things. Some are stupid, most are hurtful - and he never remembers them. Out in public he has what we call "social tourettes". Behavior is not quite so bad as it can be at home, but still rather awkward. People have commented that he must be drunk, but I know he's not.
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Postby Lizzbet » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:50 pm

My husband has recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea. I am so frustrated with his behavior sometimes, disorientation, lack of balance. I think he is high or drunk or brain damaged. I made an appointment with a neurologist be cause it is so upsetting. Could it really be his sleep apnea? How are others doing since treatment?
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Postby Janknitz » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:59 pm

Sounds to me like TWO things may be causing the behavior, slurred speech, fatigue, etc.

One is definitely sleep apnea, so it's good that he's getting tested for that.

The other is blood sugar issues--particularly since you say he has diabetes controlled by diet, but he doesn't really follow the diet he's supposed to follow. The fatigue, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol are additional clues.

I don't know what diet people are being given for diabetes by established mediciane anymore--it used to be the carb heavy, low fat diabetic exchange diet, and now there's a lot of evidence that such a diet makes diabetes WORSE, not better. Seems to me there's a better understanding of the need to avoid so many refined carbs, but I'm not sure the diabetic establishment has really gone all the way over to the "other side" yet.

Take a look at some of the low carb and Paleo websites to see if there's something doable there that might resonate with your husband and that he'd be willing to try. In particular, look for Dr. Bernstein's Diabetic "Solution". He can test the blood sugar theory out himself by checking his blood sugars 30 minutes after a meal. If he's spiking, some of these approaches may help him have better control, and the most important thing is he will FEEL BETTER rather quickly.

Good luck!
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Re: Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

Postby KMB » Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:48 am

Nighttime:
I know your posts were from 2010, but my husband is currently going through the exact same thing -- acting drunk, etc. My husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea 13 years ago and has been diligently using his CPAPs (with good success) ever since. However, about 1.3 years ago I started noticing "episodes" in the evening --- they were initially pretty infrequent (once a month?). However, over the past year the "episodes" became more and more frequent and more severe. The episodes always occurred in the evening and entailed speech slurring, walking into walls, dropping things, swaying while standing still, a noticeable change in behavior (either acting really oddly or becoming real jerk) and just generally him acting "brain dead" (moving slowly, thinking slowly, etc). There was a pattern --- it was much worse on longer work days and when he threw commuting and traveling into the mix. In essence, he acted and looked like he was drunk! He apparently could not really tell how he was acting or how bad he was and then seemed to really not recall any of it. His sleep doctor would take his chip out of his CPAPs machine on his appointments and look that he was wearing it every night all night and say "You are a success story"!! He was so NOT a success story ---- our marriage and our family started to revolve around his sleep issues. We would do nothing at night ever. I was afraid of my husband even driving. It took me 6 months to even convince him of what was going on and that it was a huge problem and not normal at all. When he was "normal" during the day he would apologize and ask me to tell him when to go to bed, etc. --- I ended up taking on the burden of "telling him" when to go to bed and he was frequently belligerent about it. Not good for a marriage. My daughter hardly saw her father because he would work, come home and eat and immediately go to bed. Of course he also started gaining weight with all of this. After many doctor appts and tests, his doc and a medical equipment person both suggested another sleep study. We switched sleep doctors, I went to the appt with him and forcefully emphasized just how bad it was (although it is quite simply not possible to fully explain if you have not lived it).

My husband just finished his sleep study. They noted, of course, that his machine of 13 years NEEDED to be replaced -- they need to be replaced apparently every 5-6 years. You should also have a new sleep study every 5-6 years as your body changes as you age or as you gain weight, etc. In addition to a new machine, he is trying a new mask and his machine's air pressure has to be increased. He tried the new machine, showed some improvment for two weeks and then started reversing again. He went BACK to the sleep doc to have the pressure increased and has been using it for 3 days --- there has not been a noticeable improvement.

I am desperate. Is anyone out there experiencing such severe issues? Is there anything else we can do or try?
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Re: Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

Postby Elated » Sat Dec 01, 2012 2:22 pm

Dear KMB, we just started with my husband's CPAP two nights ago and it has gone well for two nights and he seems to feel better already. However, his symptoms are and were similar to those you describe but not as severe. The scariest symptom was that my husband slipped on the stairs several times, resulting only in scrapes and bruises but it could have been much worse. His loss of balance and crankiness and lack of energy, combined with slipping down, caused him to get tested (after much prodding from me).

I can only imagine how desperate you must be about this. I do not know a lot but am studying up on all of this.

What kind of machine and what kind of mask is he using? Does the machine have a humidifier? Is he washing the machine, hose etc. daily? Does he breathe through his mouth ever? Have you checked for leaks in the hose?

Hopefully the new setting will help. Please keep us posted. If I see anything online that looks like it might help you (and us) I will let you know. Hang in there!
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Re: Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

Postby pamsyflower1 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:10 pm

Hi Nightfall...Oh yes...yes...yes...and yes to all of the above! OSA can and does cause folks to slur their words and seem drunk...because the fatigue they are experiencing is so profound. So glad your hubby is going to get that sleep study...help is almost surely on the way for you both! You have lots of company, as you can see. My husband and I are embarked on our own journey with OSA. I was diagnosed with severe OSA in early October and am on auto CPAP now and am loving it. Hubby had his sleep test on Monday and was also diagnosed with severe OSA (his 02 saturations go down to 80 at night!), will begin his titration on Wednesday the 5th. This has been quite an adventure. Just a little tip to keep yourself comfortable when your husband has his titration...get yourself a nice standard-sized buckwheat pillow and put a flannel pillowcase over it. Set this on end between your two bed pillows...voila...you have a nice air draft barrier so you won't get cold air drafted on you head and down your neck from your husband's CPAP mask. Depending on the pressure he rquires to keep his airway open, that draft can get pretty violent! I find that once I mask up for the night, the libido shop gets closed down...so...we have found it fun to plan our nights with pre-mask activities...very comforting. I was quite repulsed by the CPAP set-up, mask, etc. It took a while and a loving husband to overcome this...now it is just a part of our lives. Good luck to you.
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Re: Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

Postby Janknitz » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:53 pm

KMB, one other possibility that should be ruled out is ataxia (it could be a combo of ataxia AND poorly treated sleep apnea. He should be seen by a neurologist, if he hasn't .

And here's something the neurologist may not tell you--ataxia can be caused by toxins in wheat. Try a grain elimination diet and you may see a complete reversal of symptoms in a few days, but only if EVERY possible source of grain is eliminated--that means you have to read labels carefully because it's in EVERY commercial product almost, in one form or another.
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Re: Spouse with Strange Symptoms-Possible Sleep Apnea

Postby roncaforte » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:51 pm

nightfall wrote:Hi all. I am new to learning about sleep apnea. My husband was recently told he may have it. He has yet to go for any testing. I hope that some of you can help me sort through it all! To give you some background-he is in his early 40s and has been diagnosed with so many different things over the years. I am hoping someone else has had a similar experience and can relate. Forgive me for the length of this post. If you can read through it all and offer some encouragement, I'd be grateful.

We've been married for 18 years and as far back as I can remember, he's been a snorer. Several years ago he began complaining of fatigue. Doctor thought perhaps it was work/stress related and possible chronic fatigue. This then developed into symptoms of diabetes. My husband is not overweight. In fact, he's on the thin side. His diabetes has only ever been managed through diet which he really does not control very well anyway. He often does not have much appetite. With the diabetes diagnosis came periods of fatigue more frequent and lasting longer.

Next came a diagnosis of depression for which he tried several different anti-depressants and alternative chinese medicine. All seem to help for a while AT FIRST. One doctor thought perhaps he was bi-polar. Along with the fatigue he is cranky, easily upset, sometimes to the point of aggressiveness, anger and the worst part - he acts like he's drunk! Add to this that he often sleeps all day on the weekends and most nights falls asleep before the kids too yet he gets up in the morning no problem. He's up before anybody else. When he feels really bad, he often slurs his words yet he is not drinking! It's so embarrassing and frustrating. I know it's not his fault.

Well a few months ago he started getting really bad headaches and was diagnosed with migraines. He also has high blood pressure and slightly elevated cholesterol. He has dealt with a lot of stress over the past few years-he had been unemployed, I'm currently unemployed with 3 kids to support. It's awful. Was sent for an MRI which showed a small stroke. In other people without any of his symptoms, the stroke would be nothing to be concerned about. It's the fact that he has these symptoms that it needs to be explored further. So he went to the stroke prevention clinic, has seen 2 neurologists and one of them sent him to a psychiatrist because he appeared depressed.

Well this psychiatrist is the one who suggested that everything points to sleep apnea. I can accept anything. If this is the correct diagnosis, then we'll deal with it. I'm just tired of making excuses for him when he has to leave a family function early or I see the sneers from people when I say he's tired or when he's acting all "weird." If in fact it is SA, then I support whatever needs to be done. I just cannot believe it's taken more than 10 years! Anybody else out there that can relate to any of this? I was totally shocked that acting drunk was one of the symptoms, yet I can barely find anything on the internet to suggest this. Please help if you can. Thanks

There is little doubt that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is responsible for your husband's ailments.

1. Snoring : A sonorous expression when the patients tries to recover breathing during events of apnea. These events last 10 seconds many times within an hour and thus continuously interrupt a normal sleep pattern
2. Daytime somnolence (which you mention as fatigue) : As a result of the foregoing the patient suffers a persistent daytime somnolence just because he did not have rest during his sleep. He is likely to fall asleep watching TV, reading a book and even before a traffic light when driving (risk of traffic accidents increases 4 to 7 times for apneics as compared with non-apneics)
3. Diabetes : OSA produces metabolic alterations increasing glucose, which leads to insuline resistance and ultimately diabetes (regardless of corporal weight)
4. Headaches : Usually only mild at wake-up, due to intracraneal pressure when the patient restores respiration after every apnea event
5. High pressure : During normal rest while sleeping the systolic pressure is low but OSA events increase this pressure during sleep, which is carried over during daytime. It mainly affects the left venticle of the heart with risk of isquemia. A slightly elevated cholesterol is less likely to account for severe high pressure.
6. Depression : A condition originated in the somnolence that affects the patient that often progresses like this : daytime sleepiness > attention deficit > poor performance at work > anxiety of loosing a job or failing in enterprises > frustrations > indifference > bad humour and irritability > anguish for not meeting life expections > social isolation due to lack of interest to join people > ultimately depression

OSA is utterly underdiagnosed. It is estimated that only 10% (or at best 20%) are properly diagnosed. A study has established that in the United States in the average a patient visits a doctor 17 times during 7 years before his OSA is discovered, thus postponing treatment which could have prevented a string of associated ailments.

[Moderated. Breach pof posting guidelines. Continued efforts to promote unproven medication]
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