In our first CPAP Sighting, we took a look at TV's "The Office". Let's stay in the mockumentary sitcom genre as we dive into ABC's "Modern Family".
In the show's 7th season (Episode 17, Express Yourself), Mitch is having a hard time focusing on work despite the fact that his partner, Cam, is asleep. The catch: Cam, and Cam's sister Pam, are both suffering from "allergy-induced" sleep apnea.
Allergy-Induced Sleep Apnea
What's the correlation between allergies and apneas? Simply put, allergies can lead to nasal congestion and/or dry mouth. These symptoms can be the cause of apneas, or interrupted breathing characterized by OSA. If not already using a CPAP machine, this could worsen things with an increase in apnea events throughout the night.
If CPAP users typically breath through their nose, nasal congestion can make therapy extremely difficult. One way to combat this change breathing is to switch mask types. If you normally have a nasal pillow style, consider using a full-face or hybrid style that allows air to flow in through the mouth.
While much of the scene is dramatized, allergy-induced apneas can occur and could be dangerous for those not already on CPAP therapy.
The Viewers' Reactions
With the CPAP Sighting in "the Office", fans generally took a liking to the quick reference. "Modern Family" fans had a different reaction.
What this user wrote was particularly disheartening. Unfortunately, the stigma of CPAP usage precedes itself. In the show, Cam is shown with an exaggerated apparatus strapped to his head. We're not sure what product they were referencing, if any. The producers likely wanted to make the CPAP mask and machine as over-the-top as possible for comedic effect. After all, it's for entertainment. However, the quick joke for some is traded for long-lasting stereotypes and stigmas.
Another user on the popular blog, CPAP Talk, writes:
TV and movie coverage of sleep apnea and CPAP is a double-edged sword. Seeing it normalized on screen can shed light on the millions of Americans that suffer from OSA. But, when not done accurately, the stereotypes and fears of therapy can be reinforced, preventing others from finding relief.