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Karen Moore
Bringing sweet dreams to others
By Alex Carrier



If necessity is the mother of invention, then one Greene County mom has used her own need to create an invention to  help herself and others.

“I was diagnosed with sleep apnea 3 ½ years ago and when I woke up the first morning after using the CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) mask, I had strap marks on my face,” explains Karen Moore, inventor of Pad-A-Cheek, about the need that started her business. “I thought to myself, I probably can fix this.”

Moore’s fix was padding for the straps that pushed against her cheeks while she slept. After a year of using the prototype on herself, she wondered if others had the same problem.

Pad A Cheek“I went on line and I didn’t find any solutions so I made some samples and walked around Stanardsville asking people if they knew anyone with the same problem. When I sold 5 pairs that afternoon I realized the need was much greater than I had imagined.”

Moore applied for a patent and the Pad-a-Cheek business started. Beginning on eBay, then creating her own click-and-mortar store, she has reached people around the world with her product and her passion.

“This is more than a business to me,” emphasizes Moore. “The diagnosis of SA (sleep apnea) is a difficult one to get your brain wrapped around because it basically means you will have to sleep with a mask strapped to your face and an air machine blowing air down your throat while you sleep for the rest of your life.”

“Untreated SA can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes. Doctors are discovering more disorders that are related to untreated to SA and research continues on better diagnosis and treatment.”

Pad A CheekSleep apnea is a condition causing the patient to temporary stop breathing during sleep. There are two kinds of SA: obstructive and central.

In Moore’s case, obstructive SA is created when the tissues in her throat close and stop air from going into her lungs. When tested, she stopped breathing approximately 17 times an hour which is considered mild.

With central SA, the brain fails to signal the body to breath. Central SA may be related to the same disorder that causes Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“There has been a standard belief for some time that only fat, middle-aged men suffer from sleep apnea,” says Moore. “Doctors know anyone can have it, even skinny 29-year old women. Sleep apnea knows no boundaries or body shape for that matter. Losing weight is not going to cure it.”

“Sleep apnea runs in families. A deviated septum or upper airway resistance disorder can contribute to having the disease,” she says with the passion of a patient who has become an informed advocate. “A greater percentage of people with SA have allergies or asthma and there is possible connection between the disorder and fibromyalgia. It also gets worse as you age.”

Pad A CheekOther symptoms may include getting up several times during the night to go to the bathroom. People with the disease feel chronically drowsy and may fall asleep at work or while driving. Some may actually be misdiagnosed with depression. Children with SA may exhibit symptoms of attention deficit disorder or learning disabilities.

“People with SA may snore, but snoring doesn’t mean you have the disease,” Moore stresses. “The only way to be sure is with a medical diagnosis.”

“I went to the doctor because I told him that I was doing stupid things and I am not that stupid. There were lapses in my cognitive process that did not make sense.”

Moore is adamant that people who thinks they have sleep apnea or any sleeping problem go to their doctor and get tested, diagnosed and treated.

“Denial is a real problem,” she says. “But the earlier you get diagnosed and treated, the less severe the damage to your health you’re your lifetime.”

Pad A CheekHelping sufferers get and stay comfortable with the treatment is why Moore created Pad-a-Cheek. Much of her time is spent chatting on-line and by phone with sufferers, referring them to support groups (members call themselves Hoseheads) and websites and re-creating and revising her original product to meet each person’s need.

“It is important that people be comfortable with the treatment,” emphasizes Moore. “When you first start it is not easy to accept. It is uncomfortable. It is strange; you look weird. You sound like Darth Vader. It can take 6 months to a year to find the right mask and machine for you and to get used to sleeping with it.”

“When I first saw the treatment for sleep apnea, I thought ‘this is really archaic.’ We can send a man to the moon and a rover to Mars and this treatment is as crude as wearing a mask strapped to your face every time you sleep – even if it just a nap in the hammock.”

“Now I wouldn’t sleep without it and my husband wouldn’t let me. I feel much more ‘with it’ and creative and I want anyone who has sleep apnea to get the therapy and stick with it. Work until you find the correct mask and support group and if you do your life will change for the better – absolutely.”

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Go to Karen Moore's
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