New Treatment Offers Hope To Sleep Apnea Sufferers

Most people think of sleep apnea as an annoying but relatively harmless condition and mainly a nuisance for those who have to endure the loud snoring that typifies the disorder. That's certainly true, but sleep apnea can often be a very serious condition and a major contributing factor to several life-threatening and debilitating diseases. Fortunately, recent research has led to a ground-breaking new treatment that can relieve the worst symptoms without resorting to major surgery; and, it has reduced the use of uncomfortable and bulky sleep devices.

Causes and Types of Sleep Apnea

According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea causes abrupt interruptions in a person's breathing during sleep, lasting from several seconds to minutes, several times per hour. The patient often doesn't realize it's happening. This results in a poor night's sleep, drowsiness, fatigue, and decreased performance during waking hours. In its worst manifestation, sleep apnea can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type, caused by over-relaxation of the muscles of the throat and tongue, which in turn, obstruct breathing. Obesity is often a factor in this type of apnea. Less common is central sleep apnea, which is caused by the brain transmitting incorrect signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Common Treatments Often Ineffective and Impractical

The Mayo Clinic lists the most commonly prescribed treatments, usually involving uncomfortable oral appliances worn while sleeping to open up air passages or surgery to remove excess tissue.

However, for a variety of reasons, these treatments aren't always appropriate or practical, and that's where a brand new treatment called upper airway stimulation is offering a welcome alternative.

New Treatment Shows Promise

The new treatment uses a small electronic device implanted just under the skin into the muscles of the chest and neck. About the same size and shape as a pacemaker, the device electronically monitors a patient's breathing rhythms during sleep. When an obstruction is detected by an interruption in normal rhythm, it emits a low voltage electrical current to the muscles of the tongue and breathing airway, causing the tongue to move out of the way and the throat muscles to expand and clear the passage.

After years of extensive testing and trials, the upper airway stimulation device is now being approved for general use. If you talk with a dentist, like Glenmore Family Dental Care Dentist Calgary SE, they could tell you more about this procedure. It is being hailed as one of the best alternative sleep apnea treatments available today.