New Tongue Stimulation Therapy Proven Successful for Sleep Apnea Sufferers

man in bed with eyes opened suffering insomnia sleep disorderDoctors have recently discovered a new successful surgery that can treat even the most severe sleep apnea cases.

Known as upper airway stimulation therapy, this surgery implants a device that is able to sense when the patient is not breathing correctly and will stimulate the nerves in the tongue to move in order to not block the airway.

Sleep apnea is an illness where a person’s airways are obstructed during sleep, causing them to repeatedly stop and start breathing while they are sleeping. Characterized by snoring, one in five American adults suffers from sleep apnea.

Of this percentage, men are more likely to suffer as sleep apnea is twice as common in men as it is in women.

The typical treatment method for sleep apnea is to use a CPAP machine, which blows air into a patient’s nose during sleep in order to keep their airways open. But for some, this option is not successful.

For those patients, their next step would to go through upper airway stimulation therapy. This includes inserting a breathing sensor, battery, and stimulation cord during surgery.

Doctors make three incisions on the right side of the body: under the chin to contact the nerve under the tongue, under the collarbone, and under the ribs near the lung.

The breathing sensor picks up breath patterns, and when the patient stops breathing, it stimulates the tongue to clear the soft tissues out of the way. The patient keeps the remote at the side of their bed and turns it on every night.

If they forget to turn it off when they wake up, the device will automatically turn off after three hours.

The devices must be replaced every eight to 10 years, once the battery runs out.

Dr. Boon, head and neck doctor specializing in this therapy tells DelawareOnline that this method can significantly increase the quality of life in patients who suffer from sleep apnea.

Boon describes that this implant has “really been a game changer in sleep apnea.”

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