Sleep disordered breathing is a common problem internationally affecting all age groups, particularly in association with certain other medical conditions and syndromes.
But as GoSeeAustralia found in an interview with a caravanning sufferer it can now be much better managed in on the road environments like caravan, camping, 4WD,and motorhome where reliable power source has been a problem in the past.
Don Fischer of SleepZone has a highly portable answer for apnea sufferers who want to get ‘Out There’ confident that CPAP can be relied on in all situations.
So GoSeeAustralia sent a new portable GoodKnight 420 unit, which includes a unique heated tube, on the road with an apnea sufferer. After four months use he says:
"Generally, travelling with sleep apnea and the requirement to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine has become much easier.
"The reliance on 240 volt supply has now virtually disappeared with the much smaller CPAP machines that run on 12 volts and as a benefit they use much smaller power draw", he said.
GoSeeAustralia - Does your requirement to use a CPAP machine effect your ability to travel?
"No. In years gone by I have travelled with one and the only problem was when camping or stopping where 240 volt power was not available".
"On those occasions I used a 12V to 240V inverter. Many of the newer machines including this portable GoodKnight 420 unit are capable of running from 12v. CPAP machines are light on current draw and only when used with a humidifier does the current require closer examination when using a battery source".
GoSeeAustralia - Have you ever experienced the condition called "Rain Out"?
"Yes particularly when using a humidifier and in colder climates or the night temperature gets low. This causes the humidified air to condense in the tube and that water can come into the mask often as a whoosh of water droplets. Not a pleasant experience to wake up with a nose full of water!"
GoSeeAustralia - Have you tried a heated tube from SleepZone?
Answer. - Yes and since using the SleepZone Heated tube I have not experienced an incident of "rain out".
"It is the greatest advance in equipment for sleep apnea sufferers in the last 15-20 years. Another great thing about this heated tube is that it runs off 12V with very low current draw so is not a hindrance to the traveller when coupled with the new 12V CPAP machines. If a humidifier is required still the portable GoodKnight 420 unit still requires a 240V, so the humidifier is connected via an inverter, but of course the humidifier is not essential just a luxury" he said.
GoSeeAustralia did some further research into the condition and found the following:
Doctors and researchers say the pathological consequences of the disorder can be severe. The key symptoms are heavy snoring, occasional sudden awakenings that may be associated with momentary choking, apneas witnessed by a bed partner and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sleep apnea is an obstructive disorder which produces repeated partial or complete cessation of breathing during sleep.
The disorder has three faces they are obstructive, central or mixed apnea.
- Obstructive apnea is the absence of airflow despite an effort to breathe.
- Central apnea is the absence of airflow due to a lack of ventilatory effort.
- Mixed apnea begins with the central component of no effort to breathe, followed by a lack of airflow despite the fact that the patient is trying to breathe.
Doctors regard apneas or partial cessations of breathing during sleep significant if they last at least 10 seconds, although they usually last for 20 to 30 seconds and can last for more than a minute.
Sleep apnea is generally caused when the throat airway collapses. Muscles relax during sleep and the upper airway can narrow as the sleeper breathes in. Snoring is the result, Doctors say. Narrowing of the airway leads to increased respiratory effort and partially wakes the sleeper. This restores the muscle tone of the upper airways and the individual goes back to sleep.
In a paper which includes notes on sleep apnea, Dr J.A.Loadsman says in sleep apnea, the cycle of sleep and arousal may be repeated throughout the night. Substances that relax muscles, such as alcohol and tranquilizers can aggravate sleep apnea, he says.
Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) remains the treatment of choice for sleep apnea of at least moderate severity. This treatment is highly effective and prevents obstructive events by pneumatically "splinting the upper airway", he says.
GSA Acknowledges J. A. Loadsman Department of Anaesthetics, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Missenden Road, Camperdown NSW. and D. R. Hillman Departments of Pulmonary Physiology and Anaesthesia, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands WA
John Loadsman is the recipient of grants from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, as well as departmental research donations from Roche Pharmaceuticals, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Hewlett-Packard. We are grateful for background used in this feature on CPAP.
Editor’s Note: This nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) feature is not a substitute for professional medical advice.