Obstructive sleep apnea affects nearly 22 million Americans. Left untreated, it can have devastating effects on heart and brain health. It also can have a lasting impact on a person’s quality of life.
Treatment usually involves a sleep study and the use of continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP.
However, research increasingly shows CPAP isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t respond well to CPAP therapy. Fewer than half of people using CPAP stick with it over the long run.
BayCare Clinic Ear, Nose & Throat has a new option for people who can’t tolerate CPAP: Inspire sleep apnea therapy.
Inspire therapy consists of a stimulation lead and a breathing sensor powered by a small battery.
The device, implanted just under the skin during an outpatient procedure, monitors each breath the patient takes and provides mild stimulation to open the airway during sleep. The patient remains in control of the system through a small handheld remote.
“Inspire therapy represents a significant advancement in treating sleep apnea,” says Dr. Robert Sonnenburg, an otolaryngologist with BayCare Clinic. He is the first provider in the region to offer Inspire therapy. He is board certified in sleep medicine and otolaryngology by The American Board of Otolaryngology.
The Inspire device opens the airway by stiffening the tongue and moving the tongue forward.
“It feels more natural to people from a breathing standpoint,” Sonnenburg says.
Studies show patients using Inspire therapy have significant and sustained reductions in sleep apnea episodes, increased activity levels, reduced daytime sleepiness and a significant decrease in snoring.
Those who use Inspire therapy can sleep on their side or stomach without worrying about dislodging a CPAP mask.
Best candidates for Inspire therapy have moderate to severe sleep apnea, struggle with using CPAP therapy, are over age 22 and aren’t significantly overweight. If a patient meets the criteria for Inspire therapy, most insurances will provide coverage for the device.