The treatment of mild to severe sleep apnea often requires the use of a medical device that the sufferer wears while sleeping. What sometimes used to be a cumbersome, embarrassing mask is now more discrete and comfortable for the wearer. Sleep apnea devices have come a long way as new advances have been made in the design and comfort, as well as in other alternative methods.
Advanced CPAP Devices
The Rio by 3B Medical is a CPAP with a sleek, ultralight design. The device weighs 2.6 oz. so it is virtually non-existent to the sleeper and is the lightest mask on the market. It also offers soft silicone nasal cushions for ultimate comfort, and a rotating ball in socket movement.
The F&P Eson 2 was designed for comfort in such ways as an adjustable head wrap that can be slipped over the head, as well as performance. This advanced design is made to aid not only patients but professionals as well throughout each phase from titration to adherence. Usability is also a key feature of this model, promoting less hassle and fuss so the wearer can get to sleep quicker.
Since the CPAP is the most recommended, along with being the first method of treatment for sleep apnea, a lightweight, moveable, design that does not further interrupt sleep, is best.
An alternative to the CPAP is the EPAP, or expiratory positive airway pressure, device. This is a disposable adhesive valve that is worn on the nose. The intention is to keep the airway open when both inhaling and exhaling. When breathing in, the valves open. When breathing out, your breath is channeled through the valves creating pressure that keeps the airway open.
Oral Treatment Devices
If you are not tolerant to the CPAP or EPAP devices for any reason, the alternative solution is to consider the use of a mouthpiece. However, over-the-counter mouthpieces may have more detrimental effects on your teeth and jaw, and it is recommended to consult a dental professional.
FDA Approved Advancements
With that said, there has been the development of the first FDA approved intra-oral device. The device is made by Oravan and is designed with a truly open anterior. Its made of two separate pieces, custom made to your teeth and jaw from acrylic for durability and longevity. The benefit is the ability of the wearer to have full function of their mouth, with freedom of movement.
Oravan’s uniqueness lies in the dorsal fin design. These two dorsal fins reside on the lower piece and engage with the titration mechanisms located on the top piece. This allows for a more natural protrusion of the tongue and better airflow.
Lastly, there is also a new futuristic like mouthpiece available from Australia called the O2 Vent. This device is a sleek design with a titanium core that is inserted into silicone mouth guards for ultra-comfort. The mouthpiece also boasts a weight of only 1.23 oz. The advantage of the O2 vent is that you will not suffer from a dry sore throat in the morning, as the device has a built-in airway the size of a nostril. When you breathe the air is taken to the back of the throat, through the device, all while your mouth remains sealed tight.
New and Upcoming Oral Device
Another take on oral devices is provided through a dentist out of Hudson, NY who recently patented a mouth guard, unlike other mouthpieces. This dentist’s design joins the upper and lower jaws, but also holds the lower jaw forward to prevent the tongue from slipping and causing an obstruction of the airway. This design has yet to be approved by the FDA, as it is still pending, but is available through the dentist’s practice. The benefit is a more comfortable and natural feel while asleep.
Patients who may not be interested in an external device now have the option to implant a small device into their chest.
Approved by the FDA in 2014, the device does not require the use of a wearable mask and is available for patients who suffer from severe cases of sleep apnea. It is called hypoglossus nerve stimulation. This is a small device that is implanted surgically into the chest. The device monitors the breathing of the sufferer and stimulates the nerve responsible for keeping the upper airway open. Another feature is that the wearer can turn the device on before sleep, and off when awake.
This may be a more invasive approach to treating obstructive sleep apnea, yet it may be a great solution for those who do not tolerate masks, nasal pieces, or mouth guards well.
Treating Positional OSA
For those who suffer from mild sleep apnea, where adjusting sleeping positions relieve symptoms, there has been an advancement in devices that can monitor your movements without disrupting your sleep in an effort to select proper treatment.
The latest development is the software ABM, Advanced Brain Monitoring. It works by submitting data brought in by a device known as the night shift and a wrist oxygen transmitter. The advantage is the capabilities to home assess positional therapy, a treatment that used to require patients to visit a sleep center that often yields imperfect results.
Now, the night shift has been on the market for sleep apnea sufferers and is a wearable vibration transmitter that is worn on the back of the neck. It sends increasingly strong vibrations until the sleepers position changes, initiated when the sleeper turns to their back.
Finding the Solution for You
Choosing the right solution and treatment for your sleep apnea should always be consulted with a medical professional and in some cases a dentist. The use of over-the-counter devices and home remedies may put you at increased risk or may alter the position of your teeth when utilizing a mouthpiece. With proper recommendation, these latest developments can ease relieve the symptoms of sleep apnea with comfort and ease.