An estimated 20 million people in the United States are living with undiagnosed moderate to severe sleep apnea, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax off and on, blocking the airway during sleep. The disorder affects men and women across all age groups. Yet, many people do not seek or get the treatment they need.
One of the most noticeable signs of obstructive sleep apnea is loud snoring. Other symptoms of sleep apnea are feeling tired all the time, frequent headaches, dry mouth and even depression.
“If left untreated sleep apnea can lead to other serious health conditions, like cardiovascular disease, stroke, memory loss and depression,” said Glen Porter, MD, otolaryngology physician with the Intermountain Healthcare American Fork Specialty Clinic.
The two main types of sleep apnea include obstructive sleep apnea (most common) and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This condition is different from obstructive sleep apnea, in which you can't breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatments
Treatments can include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or changing sleep positions, using medical devices like CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines, oral appliances, or surgery.
Surgery can include implantation of the Inspire device, which is an FDA-approved obstructive sleep apnea treatment option for those who cannot use a CPAP.
Inspire works with the body’s natural anatomy to treat the root cause of sleep apnea. It’s a small device that is implanted just underneath the skin. After it’s placed, the device monitors breathing and sends a gentle pulse to move the tongue out of the airway each time the patient takes a breath. By moving the tongue while asleep, the airway stays open, allowing the patient to breathe freely throughout the night.
Patients turn on their device with a small handheld sleep remote before they go to sleep and turn it off when they wake up.
The same-day outpatient procedure allows people to get back to their daily lives without a long recovery. After the device is implanted, patients work with their sleep specialists to customize the device’s settings to their unique breathing patterns to ensure they are comfortable and are able to get the sleep they need.
Who qualifies for Inspire?
- Have failed CPAP therapy
- Have a Body Mass Index of 32 or less
- Stop breathing between 15 and 65 times an hour
- And have an airway that closes in the right spot
“We have seen significant improvements in quality of life, allowing patients to enjoy the activities they used to, without feeling sleepy during the day,” said Dr. Porter. “We see so many patients that struggle with sleep apnea. It's an amazing feeling to let them know there is hope.”
Not everyone qualifies for Inspire sleep therapy. “It’s best to talk with your doctor about the best option based on the severity of your sleep apnea,” Dr. Porter advised.
For more information or to schedule an evaluation for any Inspire procedure and sleep issues go to the Intermountain American Fork Specialty Clinic.