Aerophagia

This field of sleep disorders and treatment can be overwhelming. It is our goal to provide you with the knowledge and resources to make it simple.

Aerophagia, or air swallowing, and can be painful phenomenon experienced by people using PAP therapy. Many people have this because their upper esophageal sphincter is damaged from GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease). This is the sphincter that closes off the opening to the stomach. GERD is very common in people with obstructive sleep apnea.

Once you apply CPAP to a person with GERD, you can get air meant for your lungs pushed into your stomach. OUCH!!!! This causes painful bloating with some thunderous burping and farting. This sounds funny unless it’s happening to you. It can actually be quite painful.

Some treatment options:

  1. Utilize EPR or AFLEX with your PAP therapy unit. Turn it to the maximum (3) and hope for the best.
  2. Decrease the pressure temporarily until your upper esophageal sphincter has time to heal. Usually one month.
  3. Change to Bilevel therapy so that when you exhale you have much less pressure.
  4. Attempt the head tucked to the chest maneuver.
  5. Sleep on a wedge pillow or in a recliner at a 25 to 40 degree angle.

See the videos below for a thorough explanation of this and for a little humor. Despite this, aerophagia is no laughing matter to people when they wake with it. It can take some time and patience, but it can be overcome.

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