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As you probably can tell by my other blog entries, I love CPAP. Since using it, I've felt energized when I wake up in the morning, with a zest for being active during the day instead of bumming around and wanting to sleep in. But even I hit speed bumps from time to time, and the other night was one of them. Around 4:30 a.m., I felt as if I were choking, unable to breathe. I ripped the mask off, and realized I was feeling two things: congestion in my nose and a really sharp headache. I slept the rest of the night without the machine. I suppose my congestion blocked the air from my nasal mask from getting into my airway, cutting off the oxygen to my system, which probably led to the headache.

So this morning I read the data off my smart card, and this is what I got:


It looks pretty normal to me -- excellent AHI, borderline leak, pressures within range. But if I were gasping for air for long enough to give me a headache, I am at a loss to explain the absence of apnea/hypopnea events leading up to the time when I ripped the mask off. I'll follow up with my physician when I see him again next month to find out. Until then, if anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to comment. I would like to prevent this from happening again.

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Comment by Mike on January 1, 2009 at 11:56pm
Great advice. Thanks!
Comment by Steven Y. Park, MD on January 1, 2009 at 11:19pm
Mike, your nasal congestion may have affected your pressures (due to increased nasal resistance). It may not be severe enough to register as an apnea or hypopnea, since by definition, for either, you have to have a breathing pause for more than 10 seconds. But if you stop breathing for 1 or even 9 seconds and wake up, you're not being optimally treated. That's why you probably had the headache.

It's important to keep your nose clear as much as possible. One great ritual is to to use nasal saline before going to bed. Some people use Neti-pots or a Water-Pik irrigator to flush the nose and sinuses. Saline acts as a mild decongestant.

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