By Ravi R. Shah, MD, Otolaryngology (ENT), CareMount Medical
October 28, 2021
Snoring may seem like a minor nuisance, but it can be a sign of a more serious issue. It may signal obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the soft tissues of the upper airway collapse during sleep and prevent you from breathing. These pauses in breathing can last from seconds to minutes and can result in poor sleep quality, frequent nighttime urination, excessive daytime fatigue, headaches, and decreased concentration.
About one in five Americans have some degree of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)*, and about 80 percent are undiagnosed.** The most commonly physician-prescribed OSA treatment is continuous positive airway pressure, commonly known as CPAP. A CPAP machine delivers gentle air pressure during sleep through a face mask fitted to the patient’s nose and/or mouth to keep the airway open and unobstructed.
CPAP is highly effective and considered to be the “gold standard” for treatment of OSA. For some patients, though, use of a CPAP device is notoriously difficult to tolerate. In fact, between 30-40% of patients do not adhere to their prescribed CPAP regimens, according to a study reported by the National Institutes of Health.
Giving up on your CPAP machine and leaving your OSA untreated can lead to severe health problems including high blood pressure, heart attack, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, and cognitive and behavioral disorders. OSA has also been linked to car accidents, work-related accidents and depression.
If you have moderate to severe OSA and are unable to tolerate your CPAP machine, you may be a candidate for a different type of treatment: an Upper Airway Stimulation (UAS) device, called Inspire. The Inspire device is an FDA-approved, implantable neuro-stimulation system that works from within the body. The device senses breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to certain muscles that open the airway during sleep.
The Inspire UAS device is implanted by a physician specially trained to perform the procedure, usually as a same-day, outpatient procedure. Two incisions are used in the neck and upper chest to place the device. After the surgical sites have healed (about a month), the doctor turns the unit on. Patients may need to undergo additional sleep testing to optimize device performance. The patient uses a remote control to turn the system on before going to sleep and turn it off after waking.
If you or a loved one have OSA and have unsuccessfully tried using a CPAP machine, contact your provider to learn about additional options.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Shah, click here.
*American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck surgery
**American Academy of Sleep Medicine