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CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
#1
CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
I'm having a problem related to CPAP.  I think I may know the cause, and I'm going to try to implement a solution, but I wanted to share my experience with other CPAP users to see if anyone else has any thoughts on the issue.

I've been on CPAP for about 2 years now.  Over the last six weeks or so, I've begun to have very serious (to me anyways) ear problems.  My ears feel like they've got bubbles in them.  When I equalize the pressure in my ears, I hear a loud crunching type noise.  I sometimes hear ringing.  My ears always feel like they're slightly inflamed or full.  Sounds sometimes sound distorted, particularly in my right ear.

I've seen a Family Doctor and an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor.  The Family Doctor suspects Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.  The ENT sent me to an audiologist and reports no hearing loss and can find no problems with my eardrum.  I went back to the GP and he recommended a decongestant, flonase, and an oral steroid, which I started today.

I now suspect that my CPAP may be playing a role, but only indirectly.  

I like to drink water - a lot of water - and often drink 32 ounces or more just before bedtime.  Over the last 2-3 months, I had started to notice that my mouth and nasal passages were becoming very dry overnight.  I initially suspected that my CPAP was the problem, though I couldn't figure out why it was only starting to happen after 1.75 years of CPAP.  Now, I'm now beginning to think that it was acid reflux caused by the water I consume before bedtime.  The acid may be getting into my nasal and sinus passages and causing irritation and inflammation.  For the first year of my CPAP use, I consistently found the humidity level of 1 was more than sufficient, but in the last 2-3 months, I've been cranking the humidity up as high as it will go to address this dryness.

I now suspect that increasing the humidity merely masked the problem.  The humidity may have relieved the irritating in my nasal passages where air flows, but I did nothing to stop the reflux, and so the problem got worse.  The Eustachian Tubes got affected, and unlike the rest of my nasal passages, they're not irrigated by the humid air from the CPAP.  So, they eventually got so bad that I began having fluid backup/production in my Eustachian Tubes, which is affected my middle ear.  At least, that's my theory.

Obviously, I'm going to stop drinking water before I go to bed and see if that helps. (duh).

As I indicated above, I wanted to share my story in case anyone else has had similar experiences and also see if anyone can corroborate or refute my suspicions, either with knowledge of CPAP or anatonomy, or with personal experience.  

Anyone?
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#2
RE: CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
I have hearing issues sometimes, but that's due to jaw issues I get from my MAD.
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#3
RE: CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
I'll share my experience, since you asked, in hope of it helping you.

Eliminating dairy from my diet has done wonders for my ears!  I highly encourage it!

As a child, and into adulthood, I had frequent ear infections and lots of earwax.  This stopped when I eliminated dairy from my diet.  

But due to those frequent ear infections, my ear drums are more sensitive.  

With CPAP, I was having constant ear symptoms like you mentioned. Feeling of bubbles in the ears.  Frequent popping, clicking.  

By experimentation, I realized that the EPR was agitating my ears.  I think the pressure changes, with every single breath, was just too much for my ears. Since I switched my EPR to off, I've had no such troubles. 

Also, when I'm wearing the mask with the machine on, I never yawn and I try not to swallow.  Those two actions (yawning & swallowing) cause me ear pain with the pressure on.

As far as acid reflux... I get it when I eat certain foods and drink too much water or wine close to bedtime.
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#4
RE: CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
(08-21-2019, 11:08 PM)Hydrangea Wrote: I'll share my experience, since you asked, in hope of it helping you.

Eliminating dairy from my diet has done wonders for my ears!  I highly encourage it!

As a child, and into adulthood, I had frequent ear infections and lots of earwax.  This stopped when I eliminated dairy from my diet.  

But due to those frequent ear infections, my ear drums are more sensitive.  

With CPAP, I was having constant ear symptoms like you mentioned. Feeling of bubbles in the ears.  Frequent popping, clicking.  

By experimentation, I realized that the EPR was agitating my ears.  I think the pressure changes, with every single breath, was just too much for my ears. Since I switched my EPR to off, I've had no such troubles. 

Also, when I'm wearing the mask with the machine on, I never yawn and I try not to swallow.  Those two actions (yawning & swallowing) cause me ear pain with the pressure on.

As far as acid reflux... I get it when I eat certain foods and drink too much water or wine close to bedtime.

Thank you very much for responding.  

Do you think that the dairy issue could be related to acid reflux, or do you think something else is going on?

Once you fall asleep, aren't you constantly producing and swallowing saliva?

I appreciate the recommendation regarding EPR.  I have never liked EPR and my numbers are better with it turned off.
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#5
RE: CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
I don't know about dairy & acid reflux. But I'm sure Google has some answers on that. That's how I figured out which foods were triggering my acid reflux.

Swallowing throughout the night... sure. But I notice that when I swallow before I fall asleep, it makes my ears hurt.
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#6
RE: CPAP, ear problems, and acid reflux
Hi,

"I'm having a problem related to CPAP. I think I may know the cause, and I'm going to try to implement a solution, but I wanted to share my experience with other CPAP users to see if anyone else has any thoughts on the issue."
...not experienced such drawbacks, however:
(A)_it may happens you start working on syntoms, not causes;
(B) For other reasons, I read very comprehrnsive discussion on acid reflux on Dr. Steven Park's book, "Sleep Interrupted'. If you has not went through yet, I would strongly recommend;
(B) How would you evaluate your two_year therapy, thus far? Everything was worked out with basic fixed-pressure CPAP?
Good luck!
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