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Fri, Oct. 18

New device on the way for sleep apnea sufferers

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

I have heard that there may be some type of implantable device being developed for the treatment of sleep apnea. Is this true?

A: Yes, that is true. There are now clinical trials being performed in the U.S. for an implantable electrical device. The device emits a current that stimulates the muscles at the base of the tongue. Theoretically, by doing this, it prevents the tongue from collapsing into the airway. Sleep specialists are awaiting the results of these trials in the next few years.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea a month ago. I have been having trouble sleeping with my CPAP, especially when I'm falling asleep. I was wondering, could a sleep aid help, or is that dangerous with sleep apnea?

A: Several studies have shown that the use of a sleep aid for the first two weeks of CPAP therapy improved long-term usage. Those that used the sleep aide Eszopiclone (Lunesta) during the first two weeks were much more likely to still be using CPAP at six months. So if this continues, you might want to speak to your healthcare provider.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

Why do people grind their teeth at night? My husband does this every night and it is driving me crazy.

A: New studies are showing that people clench and/or grind their teeth to stiffen the upper airway, thus rendering it less collapsible, which occurs in sleep apnea. We now think the majority of teeth-grinders have some sort of sleep-disordered breathing. So it is probably advisable for them to have a sleep study. A mandibular advancement device is the best treatment if the patient does have this problem since the device also protects teeth while treating the underlying disorder.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg:

I have been trying to get used to my CPAP for two months. I'm on Medicare, and I know that three months is the time limit for demonstrating regular usage. I find the pressure is too high. Any ideas as to what I might do? I'm running out of time.

A: First, you should speak to your healthcare provider about changing to either an autotitratable CPAP or a BIPAP. Both types of machines can usually do the job with less pressure.

Also, there are some new dental devices available that combine a mandibular advancement appliance with an attached nasal CPAP mask. By bringing the jaw forward, less pressure is required from the CPAP. One in particular is called the TAP-PAP, which was just recently developed.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine specialist, will answer readers' questions by incorporating them in future columns. Contact him at askthesleepdoc@yahoo.com or via mail at the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, 3259 N. Windsong Dr., Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.

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