Sleep Apnea Pillows: What helps?

Posted by elizabethh @elizabethh, Jan 20 9:57am

I was diagnosed with complex sleep apnea a year ago and started using a BiPap machine. I got constant ear infections from using the machine. My doctor reduced the pressure as much as possible, but finally said I had to stop using the machine. Changed insurance and I am now seeing another sleep doctor and starting over with sleep studies etc I went to an ENT who could not help or understand the problem. I will try again, but expect I will likely have the same problem with my ears. (I have tried dietary changes too, but even off of the machine I have chronic ear issues, so that and chronic lung congestion are unresolved issues.). Because of Covid, I am not sure when I will even be able to do an in-clinic sleep study again, so I am just on my own for now. I did do a "home sleep study" recently and found that I still have sleep apnea, even sleeping on a wedge and on my side. There are alot of sleep apnea pillows on the market, so just wanted to see if anyone has found one you think has helped. I am also not a good candidate for the oral device. Thanks for ideas about any good products you may have come across!

Hello @elizabethh, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You will notice that I changed the title of your discussion to include your question and hopefully bring in other members who may have a suggestion. I also have obstructive sleep apnea and have been using a CPAP for about 2 years. I've tried 3 or 4 pillows designed for CPAP users and none of them helped me. I mostly sleep on my sides and what has helped me has been a standard pillow and a smaller pillow on top that I rest my head on. I use one of the Roll & GoAnywhere pillows (https://www.mypillow.com/rollandgoanywherepillowbuyonegetonefree.html) and it's small enough that I can easily manipulate it for a comfortable position for my head. I also use a CPAP hose stand to keep the hose elevated off of my head (https://www.amazon.com/Eliminate-Tangles-CPAP-Hose-Holder/dp/B003UAHWOE).

You mention having chronic ear issues. @maryb9 mentioned using a CNH pillow (http://cnhpillow.com/) in another discussion and may be able to offer some suggestions.

Have you thought about seeking a second opinion from an ENT specialist?

REPLY

If complex sleep apnea means both obstructive and central, try treating just the central with night time supplemental oxygen which does not require any kind of face mask. O2 treatment works very well for CSA but not so much for OSA.
CPAP over promises but under delivers because most users can stand it. Only 60-70% who try CPAP stick with it, and the average use by those who stick with it is 4 hrs a night, not the prescribed full nights sleep. That’s what I found in the research 5-6 years ago when I was diagnosed, so there has likely been some improvement, but given the amount of compaliing heard from CPAP users, its still a big problem.. Fortunately, this is enough to help a lot of people, but the glass is half empty. If you have CSA, you don’t need CPAP. If you have both, try both treatments, but you already know CPAP is not good for you, so give an oxygen concertrator a try– 100% fixing of, let’s say, 30% of your problem is better than fixing nothing, and it might be enough.
Discuss with your MD. You need a prescription for an oxygen concentrator.

REPLY
@kb1942

If complex sleep apnea means both obstructive and central, try treating just the central with night time supplemental oxygen which does not require any kind of face mask. O2 treatment works very well for CSA but not so much for OSA.
CPAP over promises but under delivers because most users can stand it. Only 60-70% who try CPAP stick with it, and the average use by those who stick with it is 4 hrs a night, not the prescribed full nights sleep. That’s what I found in the research 5-6 years ago when I was diagnosed, so there has likely been some improvement, but given the amount of compaliing heard from CPAP users, its still a big problem.. Fortunately, this is enough to help a lot of people, but the glass is half empty. If you have CSA, you don’t need CPAP. If you have both, try both treatments, but you already know CPAP is not good for you, so give an oxygen concertrator a try– 100% fixing of, let’s say, 30% of your problem is better than fixing nothing, and it might be enough.
Discuss with your MD. You need a prescription for an oxygen concentrator.

Jump to this post

Hello @kb1943, Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. Thanks for sharing. Sound advice to discuss the need for an oxygen concentrator with your doctor. My experience with obstructive sleep apnea and using a CPAP has been a mixed bag. I did hate it when I first started but was persistent and got a lot of help here in other discussions. I found that most of the problems are associated with a person not getting a CPAP mask that fits or is comfortable so that they continue to use it. I guess different strokes for different folks. Since I was diagnosed almost 3 years ago, I've used my CPAP an average of 7-1/2 hours a night.

I think those with central sleep apnea have a more difficult time since central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This is different from obstructive sleep apnea, which is you can't breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. From what I've read oxygen therapy doesn't work as well as CPAP.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Oxygen Therapy: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Meta-Analysis:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3578679/

Do you have sleep apnea? Just wondering if you use an oxygen concentrator and if it's helped you.

REPLY
Please sign in or register to post a reply.