Monthly Archives: November 2013

FAA Announces Tests for Sleep Apnea in Pilots

FAA Can Disqualify Pilots if Untreated

FAA announces tests for sleep apnea in pilots to come in 2014. Some time ago we covered a blog regarding sleep apnea and the effects on Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (read here). The risks involved with driving while fatigued have been well documented, evaluated and regulated. Recent addition to FAA regulations have taken this same approach to the sky.

A recent announcement by FAA federal air surgeon, Dr. Fred Tilton states immediate testing will be done for those with a BMI over 40 and/or a size 17 inch neck or larger and will continue to test lower BMI’s, “until we have identified and assured treatment for every airman”. However, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association isn’t supporting this immediate call to action and has stated, “this policy seems to be based one incident”. Rob Hackman, VP of the AOPA, when on to say, “analysis of a decade of fatal general aviation accidents by the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee didn’t identify obstructive sleep apnea as a contributing or causal factor in any of the accidents studied.”

Since 2008, there have been more than one incident. On a February 2008 flight, two Go! Airline pilots overflew their destination by 25 plus miles, later admitting to falling asleep. Following testing, the captain of this flight would be diagnosed with Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea. A 2009 crash near Buffalo, New York reported fatigue as a factor, which immediately made sleep apnea testing mandatory to all commercial pilots. This testing and stricter guidelines for commercial pilots, is put into effect, January 2014.

Although the National Air Traffic Controllers Association declined comment
on the policy, the FAA stated the policy is, “designed to help airmen and aviation safety by improving the diagnosis of unrecognized or untreated obstructive sleep apnea.”

Keeping air passengers safe and to avoid future issues of pilot fatigue, is the reason the FAA announces tests for sleep apnea in pilots.

(reference)

The Difference between a CPAP and BIPAP Machine

Prior to the 1980s one of the only available treatments for sleep apnea was a tracheotomy. This involved making an incision in the trachea and inserting a breathing tube to give the patient relief from their sleep apnea. The invention of the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine changed this and provided a method of assistance that did not involve having a tube shoved into the patient’s neck. In the years following the invention of the CPAP there have been variations of the original device, which include the BIPAP and APAP machines. These machines are all used to treat sleep apnea but work a little bit differently and each type may be better suited for different needs.

The Invention of the CPAP

The CPAP was invented by Professor Colin Sullivan and his coworkers at Sydney University in 1981. Dr. Sullivan began studying sleep apnea and focused on the condition in dogs that had breathing difficulties such as English bulldogs and pugs. It was during these studies that he found a connection between breathing and sleep and Dr. Sullivan went to study the condition further at the Royal Prince Albert Hospital in Australia.

He came to the conclusion that a solution may be found with a device that could pump air into the respiratory tract. The first CPAP device constructed by Dr. Sullivan consisted of a breathing mask that was connected to a vacuum cleaner engine with a hose. This device was fitted to the snout of a dog with results that were found to be promising for human use.

In 1980 Dr. Sullivan received an opportunity to test the device on a construction worker that had come into the hospital for help with his sleep apnea. His apnea was severe enough that Dr. Sullivan recommended a tracheotomy but the patient refused the treatment and agreed to try the CPAP machine. The machine was tested on the patient using several different settings of pressurized air until they fell asleep and were able to breathe normally for several hours while they slept. The machine would later be tested on several other patients and later accepted as a treatment for sleep apnea by the medical community.

How it Works

The modern CPAP machine works by delivering a set amount of air pressure into the airway to keep breathing regular and oxygen available to the patient. The air travels from a flow generator through a hose that is attached to a nose mask. This air pressure supports breathing and helps keep the airway unobstructed. The air pressure delivered through a CPAP machine is continuous and this can sometimes be uncomfortable for certain people since they will be exhaling against pressurized air. While it can work very well for some individuals others may prefer using a BIPAP or APAP machine in it its place.

The BIPAP and APAP Machines

The Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BIPAP) machine was developed in the 1990s and is often used in patients that are unable to adjust or have not found relief with the CPAP. Unlike the CPAP machine, which delivers a constant flow of air, the BIPAP delivers two levels of air pressure during the night. A higher level of pressure is delivered while the patient is inhaling and a lower pressure level when they are exhaling.

This reduces the effort it takes to exhale and can be more comfortable for the patient especially if they experience issues with anxiety and claustrophobia when using a CPAP. However, the pressure on a BIPAP machine must be carefully monitored and adjusted since it is not automatic. This machine is usually recommended by doctors for people that are also suffering from heart problems or lung disease.

Using an Automatic Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) machine is also an option for people that have sleep apnea. This machine can automatically regulate the pressure it delivers to the patient to maintain the pressure at the lowest setting possible to keep the patient’s airway open. Since the pressure is automatically adjusted for each breath it can be the most comfortable option for people with sleep apnea.

Determining the Best Solution for Your Needs

The CPAP, BIPAP and APAP machines can all reduce or eliminate the symptoms of sleep apnea and are usually prescribed based upon what the doctor considers to be best for the patient’s individual needs.

These machines are usually not very large and can be very simple and convenient to transport. A doctor will work with the patient to find the ideal setting for them or an APAP machine can be used to evaluate pressure needs on a breath-by-breath basis. Patients also have the option of using a nose mask or a full-face mask depending on their personal preferences. Sometimes a patient will have to try more than one type of machine before they find the best solution for their sleep apnea.

My CPAP Machine is Discontinued? What Now?

What do you do when your favorite CPAP Machine is Discontinued?

It’s not easy trusting a new brand when your favorite brand is no longer available. Successful companies are great at creating their image, marketing their products, and creating loyal followers who will go out of their way to purchase their products. An Apple iPhone launch? It’s one of the biggest product launches around because Apple knows their consumers, knows their products, and knows how to match their product with their target market. Sometimes launches are successful, other times they are huge failures that can cripple a company for the long term. We as consumers do lots of research when purchasing a product or trying out a new service, companies have to equally put in the time, research, and dollars when they want to make or sell a product that has a chance at being a success.

While a CPAP machine isn’t an iPhone, the brand you purchase is probably more important to you then a material good because you rely on your CPAP for comfort and reliability. What are you to do when a manufacturer stops producing a brand name that you are comfortable with? Maybe it’s a model recommended to you by a friend or doctor, maybe it’s a model you’ve had great success with in the past and are looking to keep that relationship going. CPAP machines come in all shapes and sizes, and like most products can be made by an assortment of different manufacturers. As with any product, sometimes relationships end or businesses falter leading to a possible discontinuance of a product that was very popular. Whose fault it is might never be known, but sometimes the people who really suffer are the consumers who have been loyal users.

Probasics-zzz-PAP-auto-7541One of the most successful products available at Respshop was the Zzz-Pap Auto CPAP. Light weight with a universal power supply, it was one of the better selling items for frequent travelers dealing with sleep apnea. With a heated humidifier and ergonomic design, the Zzz-Pap Auto CPAP was a favorite amongst our customers. Reviews on respshop.com were all positive, with customers pointing out how quiet and small the machine was, the effectiveness it had on their sleep apnea, and of course the price tag, a common concern for all buyers, no matter what the product.

While we hate not being able to ship out a product that was so successful, due to circumstances beyond our control, the Zzz-Pap Auto CPAP is no longer available for purchase. As a customer, what are you supposed to do? You know the name, you know the product, you know the reviews, and you want to make the purchase! We share your concerns, as we are always looking to provide the best care possible to our customers, which includes stocking and shipping the best possible products.

Thankfully at Respshop we have been able to replace the Zzz-Pap Auto CPAP with a similar product that can continue to provide the same levels of comfort, with added bonus features, you were accustomed to with the Zzz-Pap Auto CPAP.

apex-ich-auto-travel-cpap-machineDesigned by APEX Medical, the iCH Auto Travel CPAP  is one of the newest products in the Respshop ever growing library. Like the Zzz-Pap before it, it is also extremely lightweight and perfect for those on the go. The APEX Medical iCH Auto Travel CPAP has also added some updated bonus features that will help relieve any stress you might have while trying to purchase a new CPAP machine to help with your sleep apnea, including a pressure relief function that will help imitate a normal breathing pattern and a heated humidifier that will relieve potential congestion and any other uncomfortable feelings you might get from your CPAP machine.

This blog post isn’t intended to hype or sell a product, all of that information can be found on our website. This post is written to help customers understand that products sometimes become unavailable. It’s never fun, but before you purchased the Zzz-Pap originally you probably did your research and came to the conclusion that it was the best product for you. Like you, we did our research when we realized the Zzz-Pap would no longer be available for purchase and were able to build a relationship with APEX, a relationship that allowed us to feel comfortable selling a new product to you, that we stand behind. CPAP machines aren’t just about comfort, they’re also about long term health and fighting the negative effects from sleep apnea. As a distributer of CPAP devices rather than iPhones or similar products, we aren’t just carrying devices that make your life easier or more fun, we are carrying devices that can truly impact your long term health, so it is important that we stand behind what we sell at all times.

While it’s difficult to change what you’re accustomed to, it was probably difficult to become accustomed in the first place. You did your research and found the perfect CPAP machine for your personality. We did ours and found what we believe is an excellent replacement that will provide all of the original benefits plus updated bonus features that will hopefully continue to provide excellent relief and comfort for those dealing with sleep apnea.

We are always available 8 A.M. through 5 P.M. Pacific Standard Time through the phone at (866) 936-3754 or through our online chat at www.respshop.com to help you with any questions or concerns you might have about any CPAP machine, CPAP mask, or any other devices and accessories that we sell. We want to make the purchase easier for you and are always glad to assist with any questions and concerns. I recommend that you look around and do your research on the new APEX Medical iCH Auto Travel CPAP to truly understand how it can relate to a product you’re already used to, and I hope that you’ll be as satisfied with what you find as we were with what we found as we continue to provide the best CPAP machines, at the best prices, to help with your sleep apnea.

If you do end up purchasing the new APEX Medical iCH Auto Travel CPAP we would love to hear your opinions and feedback so that we can continue to provide you with the best possible products.