I have Sleep Apnea at 24 yrs.! Calling all medical minds...

I was recently diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. I am male, only 24 and have a good body composition. I have what the doctor described as a “moderately crowded” airway.

I will be getting my CPAP soon, which I expect will allow me to get deep, restful sleep for the first time in years, I can’t wait.

But, I don’t necessarily want to settle for this as the end-all, long term solution up front. If this problem has a very simple pathology (because it is a mechanical problem, for the most part), it may have some hidden, clever fix waiting for me and the doctors to find and fix. I would like all of you to participate in a brainstorm about how this could be remedied without an intrusive procedure such as surgery to remove parts of my body.

Starting off here: I was realizing that some of my buddies who occasionally sleep over at my place have an amazingly powerful resting tension of their jaw muscles. While they sleep in my lazyboy-style chair with their head fixed at about 45 degrees, their jaws don’t slouch or hang down a bit! (Mine is hanging down wide open.) Then, some others have theirs hanging down just like mine. It just so happens that those are the ones that snore!

First and most important question: Is there any way to improve, through injections, exercises, ect. the resting tension of the soft tissue in my airway temporarily and/or permanently?

Second observation: I was realizing that the drier my mucousa becomes, the more inflammed it gets and the more likely I am to snore and have episodes. My place is air conditioned and I have an air purifier in the room (and I live in S. Florida), so the air is normal. I believe this happens both when I breathe through my nose AND mouth, although it is more prevalent when breathing through my mouth of course.

Second question: Is there any way to combat my mucousa from drying out during the night (eatable wax, humidified air, ect.)?

Third question: Is it feasible to try to create a framework for my airway to stay open during the night, such as a ball-shaped framework that I literally stick down my throat? (If it is just a frame-work, it cannot obstruct my airway and make me choke, although it could stimulate my vagus nerve and mess with my heart rate.)
It might be something that I would have to get used to, but if all I have to do is stick a ball of metal (or other material) into my oropharynx and call it a night, that would truly be a godsend!

Thanks for your help with my problem, which is many others’ problem as well.

Your CPAP machine will have a humidifier attached. You will need to find the balance btw comfortably humidifed/warmed air and avoiding condensation in the tube/mask. Using the humidifier will help keep you from drying out.

There are corrective operations but they may not be totally effective.

I’ve been using a cpap for about 2 years. It has its pros and cons. I do sleep much better but sometimes I get my face yanked if the hose gets caught on somethig. Also the machine does make some noise. So if you have a sleeping partner the lack of snoring will be a relief but then the noise of the machine may bug them.

My CPAP doesn’t have a humidifier but it is an option.

Former CPAP User here. I found I slept better when my jaw was closed to an underbite. That is my bottom teeth out beyond my top teeth. It became a habit for me in no time to sleep that way on purpose. Also sleeping with my mouth closed helped me sleep better without my cpap. That being said, they make mouthpieces to hold your jaw that way while you sleep. I don’t know how effective they are, but it’s certainly non evaisive. There are some pretty good pirtures of what I’m talking about right here


Just to clarify, I am trying to avoid wearing the CPAP if at all possible (even though it is a GREAT solution to the problem).

Can we call it a C-pap? In every one of these posts I dilexiatized the initials to Crap! Of course my mind isn’t quite right. :slight_smile:

You really ought to talk to a physician who is a sleep specialist. My wife has severe apnea, which if left untreated can cause a lot of very bad conditions. She hates the machine, but does use it and it helps.

Her doc discusedca few surgical procedures that he says are effective, but some are a bit radical. Often just removing the glottis (?) (little hangy down thing in your throat) will offer relief.

He said theere were no self-help exercises that were any help.

As to the CPAP, her’s first came with a tube that dived into two, each fitting closely into each nostrel because she did not want the mask leaving marks on her face the next day. Unfortunately, this was very noisy with loud hissing noise.

Recently they have developed a new mask with s soft plaxtic interior that fits closely and is not as uncomfortable, and is quiet, which she uses now.

This condition can be very dangerous, so it is very important that you consult an expert in the field and/or do some research yourself on good medical websites (such as Mayo Clinic, etc).

I realize it is a bummer having this at your age, but it can affect anybody, and should be treated without delay. Start with the maching, then consider surgical alternatives.

Good luck.

Excuse all the typos, am in a hurry! :smack:

Do we know why, what it’s crowded with? My ex-wife had sleep apnea which was mostly due to her being overweight, but she wouldn’t or couldn’t lose weight so had to use the CPAP machine.

There is an operation available where they sear the soft tissue that otherwise hangs into the airway. I’m surprised your doctor hasn’t at least mentioned the possibility.

Just started using a CPAP myself, and perhaps because mine’s brand-new I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how quiet mine is; both my father and brother-in-law have been using them for some time, and having heard theirs I had some idea of what to expect, but in my case at least the machine itself is virtually silent. There’s some air noise, and if air escapes around the edges of the rubber seal on the mask you can hear that, but in general neither of those is enough to wake me up or keep me from going to sleep.

Mine came with a humidifier attachment, but so far I haven’t used it – I travel for work nearly all the time, and shlepping the machine itself with me is enough for me – and so far haven’t experienced any problems with drying out of my mouth or nasal passages. In fact, since I now sleep with my mouth closed, I no longer wake up with my mouth and throat completely dessicated the way I used to.

I can’t claim that the mask/headgear is so comfortable I don’t notice it, but so far I’ve had no problems with it, and it hasn’t kept me awake, nor have I had any problem with the hose tangling – I’ve noticed that I now move about in my sleep far less than before, so the hose hasn’t been a problem. I used to use most of my part of the bed during the night and twist the bedclothes around completely, while I now can sleep eight hours when the opportunity affords itself apparently without moving, to judge from the state of the bedclothes in the morning.

I also can’t claim that it’s made a miraculous difference in how I feel, but I definitely feel better than I did without it. My schedule and personal habits mean that I rarely get eight hours of sleep – six hours is more like it most of the time, and sometimes less than that. The first week or so I did still experience some daytime drowsiness, but the last couple of weeks I have had no episodes of daytime drowsiness, whereas before using the machine I was likely to be fighting off sleep anytime I stopped moving and/or talking for any period of time – in fact, I used to occasionally fall asleep midsentence while reading aloud to my kids at bedtime.


First Question: No. No exercises. Although your posts use a lot of anatomical words you don’t seem to understand that these muscles are not under conscious control. Injections? Nup.

Second Question:

That doesn’t sound like normal air. Air conditioning will be stripping the moisture from the air. A humidifier would be good.
Until we know what exactly is occluding your airway we can’t do much on this one.

Third Question: You Fuel are another example of how a little bit of knowledge is dangerous. Sticking something down your throat is not a good idea. You could easily damage your voice box or choke yourself. As for CNX I don’t see what that has to do with anything. Vagus Nerve stimulation of the heart slows it down and it has no afferent division to be “stimulated”.

And I hope to hell that KlondikeGeoff means the uvula not glottis. The glottis prevents food from entering the trachea during swallowing. Removing that is generally regarded as not a good idea.
Removing the uvula is less risky. The uvula mostly only prevents choking and food from entering the nose while eating. But it would only help if the uvula was occluding the airway.

If there were a “simple solution” for what you want, medical science would discover it a long time before the Straight Dope would. The SDMB is also not allowed to solicit medical advice.

There are plenty of yoga-frauds out there who will tell you that you can do “exercises” to improve your breathing. That big quack Deepak Chopra might even have something to say about it if you could ask him.

But don’t buy any of this crap.

Use the C-Pap. It’ll become your friend.

What’s your hesitation? Is it the thought of scaring away potential one-night stands with the machine?

Well, here’s a kinda hijack (and I’ll probably Google it but I thought I’d see if any experts here know the answer): is there any research on why sleep apnea seems to be so common? Do they see sleep apnea in third world countries too or is it primarily a western thing? (I get the whole weight angle but then I see it diagnosed in people like Fuel who don’t have extra weight.) It just seems weird that to get a good night’s sleep, people need to hook themselves up to an expensive machine.

I suspect that many of my third-world relatives also have sleep apnoea but go untreated. (I can tell by the sound of their snoring.)

I don’t know about the second part of your question – I compare it to the observation about the number of people who wear corrective lenses – 200 years ago did everyone just walk around seeing badly?

Firstly, Fire Engine, during orotracheal intubation, one must be careful not to stimulate the vagus nerve with the laryngoscope blade or else have to administer atropine to deal with the resulting bradycardic effect. In addition, the Valsalva maneuver (look it up!), pressure on the carotid sinus, and distension of the urinary bladder can all stimulate the vagus nerve to do its action. So, explain to me how the whole EMS system down here in Florida is wrong about vagus nerve stimulation? Also, I asked questions while providing examples, I was not asking questions strictly about those examples. You underestimate me.

I am simply going through the motions of taking the biggest problem in my life and searching out ALL my options… no one else (sorry to say, even a doc) is going to do this for me. I am HAPPY to wear the CPAP, its not a hesitation I have, its a lack of a habit of blindly, impulsively doing what everyone else does. Basically, I am waiting for the machine and am using this week to ask around.

Curious, why are we talking about me, I was asking some very simple questions here? Forget it, if you all are not going to tell me exactly why there is no way to hyper-lubricate my mucousa, create a framework for my airway, or create a stiffer resting tension of my soft palate, then you all are not adding any value to this thread, so why post?

I have wondered about this. Just like “everyone” has bad eyes, “everyone” seems to at least have sleep dyspnea (I made that up). Snoring, waking up from snoring, its absurd that the human body does all the amazing miracles, but forgets one of the most important things, the airway!

I’m not sure, he didn’t say. My guess is it is crowded with normal anatomy… just a small airway. I pointed out that I have a very good body composition, but I am wondering if there is muscle in my neck that I have gained over the years from working out that has tightened up the already close quarters in my throat… who knows.

Well, yeah. And if their eyesight was as bad as mine, they’d be considered blind pretty much. But there are some theories that all the reading and close work we do nowdays contributes to nearsightedness and that maybe one reason so many people need glasses. (this seems to be a hotly debated topic tho’) I was wondering if there were the same sort of theories for sleep apnea.

Something to keep in mind: I feel there might be a solution for my questions that are too dangerous to advocate on a mass international scale, but could be a safe solution for a single person who can take all the necessary precautions. For instance, even if there was a good way to create a framework for an airway prone to collapse, there would be a small amount of people who would choke and die from it, probably from inserting it incorrectly or not protecting it in its proper case while not in use, ect. This would prevent the solution from becoming more mainstream knowledge… I am simply searching these situations out. Trust me, its worth it.

Again, this is a simple mechanical pathology, one that by reason could easily have a simply solution. Heck, one simple solution is already out there, the CPAP! So, if you will SD’ers, please help me search this issue out thoroughly, for the sake of intellectual stimulation as well as possible education.

I have been thinking about this a lot. Question: What animal do you know that habitually sleeps on its back? (Sometimes a cat will, but habitually)

Comment: I don’t think that there are many people who are healthy (have good diet, do cardio and lift weights) and are at a good weight who have this. If you are unhealthy, I wouldn’t be suprised at anything like sleep apnea happening. I am truly an anomaly. Maybe it has something to do with me being 6 weeks premature…

Also, I don’t believe many people have sleep apnea, more like “sleep dyspnea”.