Inspire, a New Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstruc­tive sleep apnea (OSA) is a seri­ous dis­or­der in which breath­ing repeat­ed­ly stops and starts while you sleep. With OSA, the mus­cles in your upper air­way relax while you’re sleep­ing which caus­es your air­ways to become blocked. As a result, your breath­ing may pause for 10 sec­onds or longer until your reflex­es wake you and ini­ti­ate your breath­ing to restart. This process con­tin­ues mul­ti­ple times through­out the night. 

The preva­lence of OSA increas­es with age and may affect 38% to 68% of peo­ple old­er than 60 years old[1]. You are at greater risk for devel­op­ment of this con­di­tion if you are male, have a large neck cir­cum­fer­ence, a high body mass index (BMI), larg­er ton­sils or are a smoker. 

Symp­toms of OSA include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Gasp­ing for breath while sleeping
  • Irri­tabil­i­ty
  • Loud snor­ing
  • Morn­ing headaches

Your doc­tor may make an eval­u­a­tion based on your symp­toms and sleep his­to­ry. Diag­no­sis of OSA usu­al­ly involves par­tic­i­pat­ing in a sleep study. This eval­u­a­tion observes your breath­ing and oth­er body func­tions dur­ing sleep.

Due to the repet­i­tive inter­rup­tion in sleep and drop in oxy­gen lev­els, untreat­ed obstruc­tive sleep apnea can cause seri­ous health prob­lems including:

  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart dis­ease
  • Liv­er problems
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes

Treat­ment for Obstruc­tive Sleep Apnea

Since OSA can lead to such seri­ous health issues, it’s impor­tant to get this con­di­tion treat­ed. His­tor­i­cal­ly, if you had mod­er­ate to severe sleep apnea, a con­tin­u­ous pos­i­tive air­way pres­sure (CPAP) machine may have been rec­om­mend­ed as the top choice for treat­ment. This machine deliv­ers air pres­sure through a facial mask to keep your air pas­sages open while you sleep. 

Although CPAP is the most com­mon method of treat­ing sleep apnea, some peo­ple may find it uncom­fort­able to sleep with a mask over the face each night. Duly Health and Care now offers the Inspire treat­ment as an alter­na­tive treat­ment option for patients where CPAP treat­ment has been unsuccessful. 

The Inspire treat­ment is an FDA approved treat­ment for obstruc­tive sleep apnea. Inspire ther­a­py con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tors your breath­ing dur­ing sleep and based on your unique breath­ing pat­terns, deliv­ers mild stim­u­la­tion to keep air­way mus­cles open. The device will stim­u­late the hypoglos­sal nerve to thrust the tongue for­ward dur­ing sleep. 

For those strug­gling with man­age­ment of OSA with a CPAP machine, this elim­i­nates the need for a CPAP machine. The Inspire device is sur­gi­cal­ly implant­ed by your Oto­laryn­gol­o­gist in your chest dur­ing out­pa­tient surgery. The implan­ta­tion is done under gen­er­al anes­the­sia using three small inci­sions under the chin, below the col­lar bone and along the side of the chest. Most patients take over-the-counter pain med­ica­tion and resume non-stren­u­ous activ­i­ties with­in a few days.

About one-month post-op, your pul­mo­nolo­gist will acti­vate the device. Once the device is acti­vat­ed sim­ply click the Inspire remote to turn the sys­tem on when you’re ready for bed. While you sleep, Inspire will open your air­way via stim­u­la­tion, so you can breathe nor­mal­ly and sleep peace­ful­ly. A repeat­ed sleep study will be per­formed two to three months post-op to ensure the device is func­tion­ing cor­rect­ly. After implan­ta­tion, Inspire will be con­tin­u­ous­ly reg­u­lat­ed by your pulmonologist.

If you have been diag­nosed with sleep apnea and need to dis­cuss next steps, sched­ule an appoint­ment with a Pul­mo­nolo­gist to deter­mine the appro­pri­ate treat­ment. If you have been diag­nosed with sleep apnea, are receiv­ing treat­ment from a CPAP machine, but are hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ty man­ag­ing the device, sched­ule an appoint­ment with an Oto­laryn­gol­o­gist to see if Inspire treat­ment is the right alter­na­tive for you. 

[1] Pre­vent­ing Chron­ic Dis­ease | Clin­i­cal Char­ac­ter­is­tics, Comor­bidi­ties, and Response to Treat­ment of Vet­er­ans With Obstruc­tive Sleep Apnea, Cincin­nati Vet­er­ans Affairs Med­ical Cen­ter, 2005 – 2007 — CDC

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  • Kevin Casey, MD, Joliet ENT, Hinsdale Otolaryngologist

    I believe in the power of listening to each patient, providing a thorough explanation of their ear, nose and throat condition and developing a treatment plan using patient input in order to tailor their otolaryngology care to best fit their needs.