You can detect sleep apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), if your sleep is accompanied with loud snoring accompanied with other symptoms. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway at the back of the throat become partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea can result in high blood pressure, heart attack, heart disease, etc.
There are also technological devices that can be used to diagnose sleep apnea and ensure appropriate sleep apnea treatment.
Technology to Diagnose Sleep Apnea
Eccovision Acoustic Diagnostic Imaging System
The Eccovision Acoustic Pharyngometer / Rhinometer system from Sleep Group Solutions is used to test our patients nasal and oral airways. The device sends sound waves into the airway and the reflected sound waves are measured by the machine to tell us how big the airway is. The Rhinometer measures the nasal airway and the Pharyngometer measures the oral airway. Both systems are FDA cleared and a highly effective way for us to identify the site and severity of airway collapse as it related to snoring and sleep related breathing problems.
Ares Apnea Risk Evaluation System
Our practice uses the ARES system which patients can take home and wear in the comfort of their own home and bed as a home sleep apnea test. The device is as easy to wear as a baseball cap and it records detailed information about sleep quality and any sleep related breathing events that may occur. The data is then uploaded from the machine to our physician colleagues who provide medical interpretation and diagnosis.
Technology Used to Treat Sleep Apnea
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the traditional gold standard for treating sleep apnea. It works by pumping room air through a hose into a nasal mask that is strapped to the patient’s head. Constant pressure in the airway pushes the collapsible tissues out of the way and maintains and open/stable airway.
Inspire Therapy is new technology that is FDA approved and used to treat obstructive sleep apnea in people who find it difficult to use or benefit optimally from using CPAP. Inspire upper airway stimulation involves the use of a small, implanted device that works from within. It senses breathing patterns of the patient and delivers mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve. This is why it is also called hypoglossal nerve stimulation.
The hypoglossal nerve is the nerve that controls the tongue. When signals are delivered to it, it prevents blockage by the tongue and keeps the airway open during sleep.
The inspire system consists of three components- a small generator, breathing sensor lead, and stimulation lead, that are all controlled by a small handheld remote. With the remote, the Inspire Therapy system can be switched on before going to bed and off on waking up or paused during the night. You can also increase or reduce the stimulation strength.
The device is turned on before going to bed and it delivers stimulation that makes the tongue and throat muscles to shorten and moves your tongue and palate forward to keep the airway open throughout the night.
In a clinical trial, it was proven to reduce sleep apnea events and improve quality of life and daytime functioning significantly. Bed partners also reported no to soft snoring. To qualify for its use, a patient must:
- Have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (AHI of 15 to 65)
- Have used other options, particularly CPAP without success in the past 2 years
- Have a body mass index less than 32
- Be more than 22 years old
Hence, the Inspire therapy is a new technology particularly for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
In other news, oral appliances are usually used to help people with mild sleep apnea. In some cases, they have been recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea.