Apnea Title
Apnea HeaderApnea CureStop Smoking
submit button header
Wake up happy! Discover the proven sleep apnea treatments that guarantee a healthy and restful sleep!

Sign up here for your FREE report:
Your Name:
Email Address:

New sleep apnea treatment reduces need for surgery

Sleep specialists have discovered a new non-surgical treatment for sleep apnea, a disorder in which the individual temporarily stops breathing while he sleeps. That can cause serious cardiovascular and arterial problems and, until now, was treated mostly with surgery.

According to Dr. Wallace Mendelson, chief of sleep studies at the National Institute of Mental Health, the new treatment relies on a device called the "C-PAP," continuous positive air pressure. It is, said Mendelson, "a little machine about the size of a small TV set that just sits on your bed table. A hose goes to a little mask that fits on your nose, and it exerts a tiny bit of air pressure into the upper throat. That is just enough to open up the airway."

As a result, people who previously would have required surgery can be helped to sleep with this device instead. "It is really a marvelous thing," Mendelson said. "It is non-invasive for one thing. A lot of people who have apnea, including many older people, are not good surgical candidates. Here's a very lovely treatment that will handle many of the patients."

The C-PAP, as it turns out, does more than just keep the throat open, Mendelson said. For example, patients on a steady treatment -- using it, say, four nights a week -- find that they do better the other nights as well. They actually seem to increase the muscle tone."

A change in the technology only in the past year has made the C-PAP -- until now used in hospitals for certain pulmonary patients -- small enough and inexpensive enough to be used by patients at home, Mendelson said.

Sleep apnea is especially prevalent among middle-aged, overweight males with short, thick necks. It is often associated with loud snoring. It is one of the disorders discovered by sleep researchers only in the past decade or so, and although it is potentially fatal, it has been notoriously resistant to treatment.

People with apnea stop breathing usually for about 10 to 15 seconds at a time, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. Efforts to resume breathing or the lack of oxygen itself cause the person to wake up each time and start breathing again. These hundreds of mini-wakenings may go unnoticed by the victim, but may have serious side effects and daytime symptoms, primarily daytime sleepiness.

It is often caused when flabby throat muscles and tissue permit the tongue to fall back and block the flow of air, or when the pharyngeal wall tends to collapse during sleep. This phenomenon is known as obstructive apnea, and can be helped by surgery.

Another kind of sleep apnea occurs when the respiratory center in the brain fails to signal a breathing command to the body. Most cases involve a combination of the two types.

The most serious cases may require a tracheostomy, a permanent hole into the windpipe -- life-saving, but requiring changes in life style not always acceptable to the patient.

.Next: More Obstructive sleep apnea