Surprising New Treatments for Sleep Apnea

All sleep disorders affect health and quality of life, but sleep apnea is arguably one of the most damaging. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway muscles relax too much during sleep. As a result, the individual can’t get air to the lungs. The brain senses the lack of oxygen, and causes the individual to briefly awaken.

Most people with sleep apnea aren’t even aware they’re waking up dozens and dozens of times each night. Because of the drop in oxygen levels, and the effect on the cardiovascular system, untreated sleep apnea has the potential to lead to life-threatening health problems.

Some medical pioneers are hoping to expand the treatment options available to patients with sleep apnea.

Can cannabinoids treat sleep apnea?

Although it certainly remains controversial—not to mention highly regulated—researchers are studying cannabinoids for use in treating a variety of medical problems, including sleep apnea. One new clinical trial is testing a synthetic version of THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis, for treating this sleep disorder.

The drug, dronabinol, is already used for chemotherapy patients suffering from nausea and vomiting. Now, clinicians believe it might offer new hope to sleep apnea patients who have trouble using the CPAP machine. Dronabinol is thought to work by acting on the neurotransmitters in the brain that influence the upper airway muscles.

Is a sleep apnea computer implant on the horizon?

Can implants help treat sleep apnea? Recently, LivaNova agreed to a $225 million deal for the purchase of ImThera Medical. ImThera Medical has pioneered a revolutionary neurostimulation treatment for sleep apnea, called aura6000. After being implanted inside the patient’s chest, the device works by stimulating the hypoglossal nerve in order to manipulate the positioning of the tongue during sleep. This technology is still in development, and it may be years before it’s accessible to patients—assuming it’s approved for use.

Proven sleep apnea treatments available right now

New sleep apnea treatments on the horizon might not be available for years. In the meantime, every night that your sleep apnea goes untreated places you at an increased risk of serious health complications. Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and stroke are some of the health problems associated with untreated sleep apnea.

You can take advantage of effective, risk-free sleep apnea treatments that are available right now at your dentist’s office. Oral appliance therapy is an excellent alternative to CPAP therapy for many patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. You might also be a good candidate for oral appliance therapy if you have severe sleep apnea, but are unable to use CPAP therapy.

Your dentist will custom-fit your oral appliance. You’ll wear it inside your mouth when you go to bed, and you’ll remove it in the morning. It works by gently nudging the tongue and jaw forward slightly, in order to hold the airway open and prevent cessation of breathing. To get the most benefit from your oral appliance, you need to wear it consistently every night—and remember to clean it every morning!

Get your custom-fitted oral appliance on Long Island

Searching for Long Island sleep apnea treatment? Dr. Nick and Dr. Elliot at Long Island Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry invite sleep apnea patients to schedule a one-on-one consult at our Suffolk County clinic. We’re proud to offer this effective therapy, which has been endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Our financial department can even help you sort through your insurance coverage.

Put an end to your snoring today and support your overall health. Call us at 631-296-0588.

Further resources on new sleep apnea treatments:

  1. National Institutes of Health, Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316
  2. Fierce Biotech, LivaNova inks $225M deal for sleep apnea startup, https://www.fiercebiotech.com/medtech/livanova-inks-225m-deal-for-sleep-apnea-startup

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Jacky Gale

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