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Fear of Suffocation
Fear of Suffocation
Hello everyone.. I am a new user of a Cpap machine, I have severe sleep apnea. During the study i stopped breathing 381 times. I am constantly tired and want my life back. I am having a terrible time falling asleep, I feel as if I am breathing in carbon dioxide, and I also a a claustrophobia fear. I don't know which one is worse, and I do realize that I am in more danger not using the machine.

I could use some hints and reassurance that I am not breathing in carbon dioxide! My setting is 7 , do you think if my setting was higher that it would be easier to exhale?
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
Cleome, welcome to the forum. If your pressure was higher than seven it would be harder to exhale against. Seven is a good pressure for cpap because it's not hard to exhale at that pressure. Why do you think you're breathing in carbon dioxide? The mask has special vents which keep the air inside the mask fresh and new. I can't give you any proof, but you're getting fresh air. Claustrophibia is common. We usually suggest wearing the mask while doing something fun- watching TV or reading, just to get used to the feeling of wearing the mask. The more you worry the harder it will be to get to sleep. Do you have trouble sleeping without the mask? Relaxation exercises can be helpful in helping you get to sleep. Though it's not recommended, I have gotten used to going to sleep to the sound of the TV. We place it on a timer and I'm seldom still awake by the time the TV shuts off. I also have a cd of relaxing music which I can listen to with earphones and rarely stay awake to hear the whole cd.
It takes some longer than others to "get their life back". There are those who respond immediately to the machine and for some it may take several months. You not only need to use the machine whenever you sleep (naps, too), but you need to get good, restful, deep and REM sleep for your body to heal. There are many videos available on YouTube about sleep apnea and the various machines and masks that I have found helpful. Keep us posted on how you're doing.
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
My setting is 18 and I have this problem sometimes too. The more I wear it the more used to it I get. I also use the ramp feature which allows my machine to slowing increase the pressure so that I can adjust to it each night. Usually I am asleep before it gets all the way to 18. The more I wear my mask the less claustrophobic it seems. Hopefully you will get used to it soon and it will be easier for you to fall asleep. Good Luck!
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
Hi Cleome,
WELCOME! to the forum.!
Try wearing your mask and using your machine as you are reading or watching tv in the evening. This will help you get used to it before you go to sleep.
Your mask has vent holes to bring in fresh air so you won't suffocate.
Just keep on trying and you'll get used to it.
Hang in there for more responses to your post, best of luck to you.
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
Why do you think you're breathing in carbon dioxide (CO2)?

First off, do you realize the difference between carbon DI oxide (CO2) and carbon MON oxide (CO)?

Carbon monoxide CO is the deadly stuff in car exhaust. You won't get any of it from CPAP.

Carbon dioxide CO2 is in the air all the time and our bodies produce it naturally. It's not dangerous unless you keep rebreathing your exhaled air.

Unless the vent holes in your mask are plugged, there's no way you'll be rebreathing too much CO2 unless the pressure drops below 4. The science is well known, and there are large safety margins. The air coming out the exhaust vent in your mask comes out in such quantity that there's no problem with CO2 buildup.

While we warn people not to plug the exhale vent in their mask, it's not really a problem unless you do something unusual.

Because of the exhale vent in your mask, the only serious risk is if the machine shuts down and you keep breathing through the mask, and rebreathe the air you exhale up the air hose.

In theory, if you're using a nasal mask, your reflexes will make you open your mouth and breathe through it the same way you do if your nose gets stopped up from a cold. It's only a risk if you tape your mouth shut. Even then, you'll probably wake up if the machine quits.

If you're using a full face mask, it will have an anti-asphyxia vent that opens up if the pressure goes away, and you'll be breathing room air.
Get the free OSCAR CPAP software here.
Useful links.
Click here for information on the main alternative to CPAP.
If it's midnight and a DME tells you it's dark outside, go and check it yourself.
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
Try sitting up during the day, wearing the mask and with the machine on. This will get you, your brain, and your body used to it.

For claustrophobia, look into the nasal pillows. They cover only a small area of the face. I know of several folks, though, that find them worse.

In terms of sleep apnea severity, it isn't the number of times you stopped, but the number of times per hour. So if your 381 events were over, say, a 7hr period, that's 54.4 times an hour. That's called the AHI (number of events divided by the number of hours).

I really wish the powers that be would change the diagnosis criteria. Too many of us go home and research it and see that the cut-off for "severe" is 30 and we were just told our AHI was sixty something or whatever. We panic. Freak. And get into a fear that isn't necessary and just makes it worse.

Take a deep breath and count to zen.

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RE: Fear of Suffocation

i am also new to machine but i can hopefully give you some hope

i am using a apap resmed auto s9 -- my machine starts off at 4 and raises slowly after 20 minutes, i am usually fast asleep by then but ocasionally i am still awake and the ramp goes up, i then have a feeling of being suffocated or air forcing in, my bad luck i am both a nose and mouth breather, when this happens i disconnect hose and reset, have another 20 minutes to fall asleep and always do. once asleep i am fine, never wakes me

i had major problems wit mask fitting as all of them made me feel like suffocating but eventually got there with a full face mask, its taken me just over 3 weeks to become aclimatised to wearing it

i think its common for mouth breathers to have this issue from all research i have done, so maybe look at other masks or hold in there it will get better

i was also very severe with ahi of +87 per hour every hour without fail over the sleep study, i have now dropped to an average of +2.4 and have never felt better, so much more energy and a clear mind

above all keep with it and it will get easier


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RE: Fear of Suffocation
(02-12-2013, 07:41 AM)Cleome Wrote: I could use some hints and reassurance that I am not breathing in carbon dioxide! My setting is 7 , do you think if my setting was higher that it would be easier to exhale?
this wiki might be helpful, tips for new cpap users:

while lying in bed with the mask and pressure on, put your hand in front of the mask, you should feel the air coming out from the vent holes
as fresh air coming to mask pushes out the exhaled air through the vent holes
its important to make sure the vents are not blocked by bed covers and cleaned while washing the mask

are you using EPR or Ramp
some find EPR offer some relief exhaling at lower pressure

the vents leaks is good leak (intentional leak), each mask have a different intentional leak and vary slightly between each manufacturer
as the S9 work out unintentional leak (mask or/and mouth leak) you need to select the correct type of mask you,re using
(full face, nasal, nasal pillows)

which S9 are using, next to power button should say Elite, Escape ...
efficacy data (AHI, leak, etc.. ) only available on S9 Autoset and S9 Elite (not on S9 Escape)
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
Thank you everyone with the responses. someone asked what type of Resmed machine I have- It is the escape. I have done the watching TV thing, and I seem to be ok with that, the problem is when I lay down.

I am going to try meditation music tonight.....
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RE: Fear of Suffocation
(02-12-2013, 08:07 PM)Cleome Wrote: someone asked what type of Resmed machine I have- It is the escape.
the Escape is basic entry level machine, no efficacy data such as AHI or leak which is important for you and your doctor to see whats doing on with therapy. just how many hours using the machine each night on the machine and on the card
see archangle signature for "What CPAP machine to buy"

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