Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder plaguing over 18 million Americans. It is also frequently misused, with only 50% of patients properly securing CPAP masks and utilizing CPAP machines. While mastering these tools may be a time- and money-saving venture, it’s hardly the only option out there. In fact, a new therapy, called upper airway stimulation (UAS) therapy, may supplement (or, in some cases, entirely eliminate the need for) CPAP machines.
“Implanted during an outpatient procedure, the device acts as a nerve stimulator, moving the tongue each time the patient takes a breath, shifting the palate forward and opening the upper airway,” WTOP.com writes. “Patients have experienced an overall reduction of sleep apnea severity up to 68%.”
According to WTOP.com, UAS treatment is best for adults who suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. It is an effective option for men and women who cannot wear a mask for the entire duration of their sleep, or for patients who, for whatever reason, do not experience adequate relief from CPAP treatments. The FDA recently approved the UAS implant, and it can treat those who suffer up to 100 apneas, or sleep interruptions, per hour.
Managing sleep apnea symptoms is of utmost importance, whether patients choose to do it with CPAP machines or the new UAS implant. At best, sleep deprivation from waking multiple times per night can result in a lack of focus, memory loss, impaired cognitive function, weight gain, weakened immune responses, and illness. At worse, sleep apnea has lasting effects on patients’ health. Untreated sleep apnea can “can cause or worsen some serious disorders, such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease,” WTOP.com continues. UAS implants provide lasting, effective relief from symptoms — with notable health benefits and without masks or wearable devices that may shift or slip during the night.