CPAP and Oxygen at Altitude

Dad, stop snoring please

“Is he dying?” was the group text I read while trying to bite back laughter. The lights from three cell phones dimly lit a room at the Residence Inn in Bozeman, Montana. It was 2 a.m. and my dad sounded like he needed to be on a respirator or someone needed to perform an exorcism. His snoring would start slowly and then build up over a couple of minutes. The sound increased with each breath as his body struggled to get the oxygen it needed. Then in a violent gasp he would shudder and suck in a bunch of air at once, fueling his lungs and quieting the beast… only to begin the cycle again moments later. Ted, Joe and myself found this hilarious at first. We didn’t understand the implications of it – not only to my father’s health but also to our ability to sleep with the racket. I think it was all in my dad’s plan to make sure he always got his own room on ski trips from that point on.

Moderate Sleep Apnea

This is known as moderate to severe sleep apnea. Most people might call it snoring but it may be more than that. According to the American Medical Association, “About 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, but only 6 million are diagnosed with the condition”. It can be caused for a variety of reasons, not all of which are obvious and it may result in serious health complications. If you want to learn more about sleep apnea check out this article by the Cleveland Clinic.

When “Normal” isn’t normal

Here is the long and short – your “normal” may not be normal. You’re tired all the time and you think it’s because you’ve aged a bit and now we have a couple of kids or work is a little more stressful. Maybe. Or maybe you’re not getting the restful sleep that your body needs. Shortly after that ski trip my father went home and saw his doctor. After a sleep study he was diagnosed with sleep apnea and was given a CPAP machine (a machine that keeps your airway open during sleep using air pressure). It absolutely changed his life. Soon after my wife urged me to get checked out due to her unending love for me – OR because she was tired of having to make me roll over during my sleep so she could get some peace and quiet. After a take home sleep study (some clinics offer a take home device that you wear and it monitors your sleep in the comfort of your own home) and a visit with a specialist I was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea due to a narrow airway. I too was given the option of a CPAP machine and reluctantly agreed. We’ve all heard of the stigma of the “Darth Vader” machine – all jokes aside, technology has come a long way and the options now are much quieter now that they used to be. After my first night of sleeping with the CPAP I woke up and immediately thought, “Why did I not look into this years ago?” It COMPLETELY changed my life. My normal was NOT normal. I was super tired because I wasn’t getting the steady flow of oxygen that my body needed.

Bluebird Oxygen Works With Your CPAP

What are the takeaways from all this? If you think you are having difficulty sleeping consult your doctor. It could completely change your life. Secondly, for all you CPAP users, Bluebird Oxygen has an adapter that allows you to hook up your CPAP to our oxygen concentrators when you’re visiting elevation. No need to choose between air pressure and air quality – you can have both! A simple adapter (included for free with a rental) allows you to connect the oxygen concentrator line to the line feeding your mask/nasal pillow.

My “low altitude” CPAP set up

The adapter fits onto the output port of your CPAP and has a spot to connect the tubing from the oxygen concentrator. If you’re a single user you can directly hook it up from the 25 foot tubing included or if you’re sharing with someone then you can use the 7 foot tubing coming off of a Y-adapter.

My “high altitude” CPAP set up with Bluebird adapter line

To add a CPAP adapter to your Bluebird Oxygen Order let us know in the “Special Requests” section of the checkout

My father taking the first step and talking to his doctor about his sleep completely changed his life and in turn it changed mine. I still remember the mountain trips with the group hanging out with a beer or a glass of wine in hand. Nowadays there is a little less drinking but nearly everyone has a oxygen cannula in their nose. At least two of us have a CPAP mask on our face at night. All of us wake up feeling better than we every have. My dad has stopped snoring…. but somehow he still gets his own room.

Let us know how we can help you feel your best on your next trip!

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