Sleep apnea is more than just a noisy annoyance for the spouse or partner that shares a bed with you. It can leave you feeling exhausted even after a full night's sleep, and it can have serious negative effects on your health, such as contributing to congestive heart failure. The most commonly recommended treatment for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine, which is a mask attached to a machine that forces air into your nose while you sleep. It's effective, but the tight mask, the cords, and the noise of the machine are intolerable for many patients. Take a look at three innovations that are making life easier for sleep apnea patients.
Surgery for sleep apnea isn't a new concept. The most common sleep apnea procedure is one that removes the part of the soft palate that obstructs air flow, making it difficult to breathe in your sleep. However, this procedure is only effective in about 50% of cases. A new robotics tool could significantly increase that efficacy.
Transoral robotic surgery (TORS) allows surgeons to more accurately remove obstructions other than excess soft palate tissue that may be contributing to sleep apnea. The robotics device used in TORS gives doctors access to places that were previously too difficult to see or operate on, like the back of the tongue.
Another new option involves implanting a device, instead of cutting away excess tissue. If you're looking for a less invasive procedure, these small implants might be the right choice for you. The surgery involves no more preparation than a dental procedure – just a numbing gel followed by a shot of Novocain – and it's over and done with in ten minutes.
Three braided polymer implants are placed inside the soft palate. Over time, they cause the palate to stiffen, preventing it from vibrating. This puts a stop to the snoring and breathing difficulties, as the soft palate becomes too stiff to block the airway at night. Patients begin experiencing the effects of the implants in as little as a few days following the surgery, and the full effect can be felt about three months post procedure.
Wireless CPAP Device
For patients who don't want any surgery or who are not good candidates for surgery, there is still hope. Soon, a new, less bulky, and less uncomfortable CPAP device may be available to help regulate nighttime breathing.
The device is battery operated, so no wires are needed, and it's a small nasal devices, so there are also no uncomfortable masks or hoses to contend with. It uses a small micro-blower to provide the correct air pressure to the patient while sleeping. Although this device is still in the preliminary stages, it could soon make life easier for sleep apnea patients without the need for surgical intervention.
If you suffer from sleep apnea and you've found that the CPAP device is not right for you, ask your doctor about the other options that you may be a candidate for. You deserve a good night's sleep, and there are procedures out there that can help.