Sleep Apnea Devices

Sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder characterized by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, can be treated in several ways. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machines; simple items such as pillows that cradle the head and extend the neck; and cushions worn like a backpack to keep the patient from sleeping on his back.

One of the most common and user friendly sleep apnea devices is an oral appliance. The mandibular advancement splint (MAS), similar to a mouth guard used in sports, is a sleep apnea device that holds the lower jaw slightly down and forward to help prevent the tongue from blocking the airway. Recent advances in oral appliance theory reveals that the tongue is the primary blockage point for air traveling to the lungs, a major factor in sleep apnea. New, low cost sleep apnea devices now exist which hold the tongue forward, alleviating the need for more expensive/medical options. The Food and Drug Administration accepts sixteen oral devices for the treatment of sleep apnea. Not only do these sleep apnea devices need to be supplied by a physician's prescription, they must also be approved by the FDA before being sold.

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Some scientists believe that sleep apnea is a neurological condition. The basis of this condition is failure of the tongue and soft palate to stimulate their muscles, which leads to over-relaxation and airway blockage. A few studies have tried using pacemakers as sleep apnea devices, programming them to detect breathing effort, then deliver an electrical stimulation when needed. This is not a common mode of treatment for sleep apnea, but using pacemakers and similar items is an active field of research for sleep apnea devices.

Sleep Apnea Devices

Effective sleep apnea devices are CPAPs, or continuous positive airway pressure. The CPAP is a small machine about the size of a shoebox, containing a medical pump, a flexible tube and a face mask. CPAP works by pushing a controlled stream of air into the patient via the mask, keeping the airway open, much like air inflates a balloon. Three types of CPAP machine's exist: the CPAP itself, the VPAP, or variable positive airway pressure, which provides higher pressure on inhalation and lower pressure on exhalation, and the APAP, automatic positive airway pressure, a more sophisticated sleep apnea device that monitors the patient's breathing patterns and adjust the air accordingly.

Like oral appliances, CPAPs require a physician's prescription and must be FDA approved. These sleep apnea devices contain many "options" or extra features, to customize the treatment to the particular patient's needs. Features include ramps, which allow the patient to begin their sleep at a lower pressure and ramp up during the night. Heated humidifiers provide warm, moist air which eases breathing and helps prevent waking with a dry mouth and or sore throat, common side affects of sleep apnea. Compliance monitors gauge if the patient has an episode even while on a sleep apnea device, date of which can be downloaded by the patient's physician to measure effectiveness of the treatment.

Sleep Apnea Devices

Do you suffer from sleep apnea? Our site focuses on information regarding sleep apnea devices and other sleep apnea information. by T. D. Houser