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Sleep Apnea

Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2009

After reading posts looking for SmithMama2 (Welcome back, Karen) I was wondering if others have been bothered with sleep apnea after treatment and if it calmed itself as time passed or if the cpap turned out to be necessary.

My husband is 4 1/2 months out of treatment and has sleep apnea something fierce. As a light sleeping wife I thought he had it before treatment but could never convince him that he should have sleep studies. Now it is at his suggestion. Next Friday he goes in for his first consultation. He still is bothered with the ropy phlegm but not nearly as bad as during and immediately after treatment. His ENT says there is still a lot of post-radiation scaring and inflammation of this air passages. It is his PCP who has suggested the sleep studies and while I trust him implicitly with our health care I don't know if he is as versed in HNC as our ENT.

This board has been such a great help through out this horrific time and I want to thank you all for your many suggestions and comments. If anyone has experienced sleep apnea I hope you have time to make comments.


Posts: 7
Joined: Jan 2010

I dont recomend drugs for anyone , unfortnatly I have had to use ambient or lorazapam since treatment . I am working my way to see a Physiatrist in Feb ??
If I dont sleep things get worse.
Let me know how the sleep studie goes if you could Linda
Hope it helps

SmithMama2's picture
Posts: 48
Joined: Oct 2009

Hey Linda,

We are still waiting the results of Kevin's sleep study which was scheduled by his ENT. I called their office last week to find out the results, but they never called back. I am eager to hear what the doc has to say. My good friend is a doc who reads sleep study statistics (but she isn't working on Kevin's), and she did say that once properly diagnosed, Kevin would have to go back for a second sleep study so they could set and adjust his air flow during the night to see what levels would work best for him.

I too am a light sleeping wife. Kevin has had apnea for the 20 years I have known him, but the cancer treatment really made it worse. It is SO frightening to wake up and not hear any breathing for almost a whole minute, then a deep desperate gasp. And again. And again. I told his doc that I had worked too hard to keep him alive through cancer treatment to have him die by sufficating in his sleep. The doc assured me that this couldn't happen, but in the late hours of the night, I still am plagued with fear.

Once we have a report, I will share what I have learned.

Best of sleep to you and your husband too!

Posts: 8
Joined: Oct 2009

Thanks, Karen and Fishin_again for your replies. I'll keep you updated as we go. Len's sleep apnea is much better now that his GP prescribed a steroid nose spray to use. Not the frantic gasping of three weeks ago but still evident, just quieter. Like you said Karen, it is the most frightening thing to worry all night long about him dying from lack of air so AI appreciated what you said about the doctor's assurance to you.

Fishin-again, Len tried ambien a few times and it freaked us both out. If he took it in the kitchen it hit him before he made it to the bedroom so he was running into walls and stumbling along. In the middle of the night he'd hold the most confusing conversations with untold people, aloud I might add, and sometimes get up in the night and not know where he was and just teeter around the room. I steered him back to bed a couple times. I worried I'd be asleep and he'd get out of the house somehow (but I know I usually need something to worry about or I'm not acting normal!!)He felt better without sleep than when taking the ambien.Even then the apnea continued. I'm glad it is there for those it helps but best to be aware of problems that could arise.

Please let us know Kevin's results and what the process is, Karen. I love your salutation and hope you don't mind if I use it also...

"Best of sleep to you and your husband" and to Fishin-again also!!

friend of Bill
Posts: 87
Joined: Mar 2010

I had sleep apnea before treatment and used a CPAP machine which was prescribed after a sleep study years ago. It works wonderfully for sleep but I was unable to use it after treatment for several months because of the problems you mentioned. Sleep was crucial to my healing because I was so debilitated and depressed, so I very reluctantly took prescribed Ambien. Later faded totally off Ambien and was able to resume CPAP which still works well for me but greatly increases dry mouth which is quite bothersome -always trade-offs it seems. Still take a tiny dose of prescribed trazadone for sleep and hope to soon get off it if doc so deems. Suggest talking to doc about advisability of a sleep study. There may other treatments that don't involve drugs or CPAP. Good luck to your husband.

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