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Tue, Aug. 20

Man sees end to sleep apnea
CD’s teaching, singing exercises strengthen muscles and help prevent snoring

Charley Hupp looks at a video Wednesday of the BBC television broadcast that showcased his visit with Alise Ojay. He credits using her throat exercises with his sleep apnea cure. Photo: JC AMBERLYN/Miner

Charley Hupp looks at a video Wednesday of the BBC television broadcast that showcased his visit with Alise Ojay. He credits using her throat exercises with his sleep apnea cure. Photo: JC AMBERLYN/Miner

KINGMAN - Charley Hupp has found a remedy for the sleep apnea that troubled him for 10 years, and his cure did not involve surgery or continually taking any medication.

Hupp used a constant positive air pressure (CPAP) machine, a common apnea treatment, for about six months when a friend told him about an excerpt from a British Broadcasting Corporation news program about Alise Ojay. She's a singing coach in Exeter, England.

She marketed three compact discs containing exercises to tone and strengthen muscles in the front, back and roof of the mouth to prevent the soft palate from flopping backward during sleep.

That causes the sleeper to stop breathing briefly and snore.

The Web site of the American Sleep Apnea Association states that if untreated, apnea causes high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotency and headaches.

His mental and physical abilities were going downhill and he felt as if his life was over before going on Ojay's exercise program, Hupp said.

The three CDs cost $75. They are available only from Ojay and can't be found in any store.

"I decided to get them and give it a try," Hupp said. "If I can sing and cure or mitigate sleep apnea, it's a lot better than using CPAP."

Hupp, 82, quickly developed a rapport with Ojay via their back-and-forth e-mails.

He followed the directions on the CDs, and after six months of continuing to use the CPAP machine at night, he was able to put it on a closet shelf, where it now gathers dust.

Hupp said he has used a nocturnal oximeter to confirm his oxygen saturation level is 90 percent or higher while asleep - and his apnea is gone.

The discs do not promote singing in the traditional sense. The exercises are more a series of guttural sounds coming from the throat that Hupp continues to do 15-20 minutes daily.

The first 15 minutes of each disc contain the exercises, followed by an explanation of how and what muscles in the mouth are strengthened by doing them.

Ojay did not market her discs until a clinical trial of them was completed.

Hupp went to Exeter in October to personally thank Ojay. He was interviewed while there by the BBC, and part of the taping includes him doing the exercises with her.

"I've worked very hard on these tapes, and to see them transform somebody's life is fantastic," Ojay says during one portion of the interview.

Malcolm Hilton, an administrator with Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, also appears during the interview. He states that Ojay's muscle exercise program is safe, inexpensive and well worthwhile if it only works for one-third to one-half of those who try it.

The CPAP machine Hupp formerly used brought only partial relief for his apnea. Toni Hupp, his wife of 54 years, can attest to the difference now.

"I noticed Charley's apnea was more prevalent in high altitudes like when we were at our summer home in Colorado," she said. "He'd take a breath and stop breathing. I counted 1001, 1002, and sometimes had to nudge him to get him to breath again.

"The problem with CPAP was not snoring, but the noise and air blowing on me. He didn't sleep well with it and was restless. It makes a terrible noise when air leaks out of the mask, and whenever he turned toward me, the air would blow in my face, so I had to suffer through it with him."

Charley neither stops breathing nor snores now, though he occasionally talks in his sleep, Toni said.

Hupp has a Web site containing information about his experiences with sleep apnea. It can be found at www.charleyhupp.squarespace.com. He also may be contacted at 718-1857.

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