A good night’s sleep is out of the reach of millions of people thanks to obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. Often, people think it is nothing more than snoring and the condition goes undetected and untreated.
Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes and blocks the airway. This causes the oxygen level in the blood to drop and the brain to respond by interrupting sleep briefly to kick start breathing. Treatment for sleep apnea includes Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) provided by a mask during sleep, devices to reposition the jaw and tongue or, if necessary, surgery.
A new advance in the treatment of sleep apnea are new nasal devices. These devices use Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP). Nasal plugs attach to your nostrils with adhesives. The patient breathes normally but the device limits how much air can pass through during exhalation. This creates a slight positive pressure in the throat that keeps the relaxed muscles open.
Previous therapy required wearing a mask hooked to an air machine while sleeping. The machine forced air into the airway. To work properly, a CPAP machine must have a tight seal around the face and be held securely in place. The masks must be properly fitted or they can cause skin abrasions. Many patients find the masks uncomfortable and this causes them not to use the machines regularly. Various studies have found CPAP compliance to be anywhere from 40 to 60 percent. These patients choose comfort over treatment.
Untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can have devastating impacts on patient health, including increased risk for heart disease and stroke as well as increased risk for Type II diabetes. And the disease also leads to decreased quality of life, with patients feeling tired and sluggish during waking hours because their sleep was disrupted hundreds of times the night before. It can also lead to depression.
These new nasal devices help increase treatment compliance. There is no uncomfortable mask and the device works using the patient’s own breathing to create the positive pressure. Studies have shown these devices are an effective treatment option for about 80 percent of patients who had previously refused CPAP or used CPAP for less than three hours a night. The study found significant decreases in the measure of breathing disruptions during sleep and found improved blood oxygen saturation. Patients in the study reported less daytime sleepiness when using these new devices.
All sleep apnea treatments must be used consistently all night to offer symptom relief. The new nasal devices are much more comfortable, meaning patients are more likely to stay with the treatment regimen. Clinical studies also found these new treatments safe, with no severe device-related adverse side effects. They were found effective for 72 percent of obstructive sleep apnea sufferers in a recent clinical trial.
It may not be the right treatment for everyone. Patients interested in learning more should talk to their doctor. These nasal devices are a relatively new treatment option so patients will need to check with their insurance to see if it is a covered treatment. Patients should talk with their doctor and ask for a 10-night trial. The trial has a suggested retail price of less than $20. Try it today!
Author Bio: Joel Mark is an online author who is passionate about basketball, weight training & fitness. When he’s not outside exercising, he studies a lot about health and nutrition, which runs the gamut from sleep apnea treatment to nutrition.