Sleep apnea is a very common condition. I used to diagnose it occasionally in my practice, in retrospect missing many cases. Now I specifically look for it in anyone who has impaired sleep, obesity, loud snoring, difficulty breathing through the nose, witnessed episodes of stopping breathing while asleep, restless leg syndrome, daytime drowsiness, chronic fatigue, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, or car accidents, since fatigue is a major cause of accidents. Reportedly 20% of men and 5% of women have some degree of sleep apnea.
Treatment includes weight loss. For those with less severe sleep apnea, a dental appliance to move the jaw forward or prevent the tongue from slipping backward in the throat may be effective. For those with more severe sleep apnea, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is necessary. However, the CPAP machines are often ponderous and uncomfortable, and many people wont wear them or pull them off in the middle of the night.
Now comes a new device. Called the Resmed nasal pillows system, it consists of two short soft plastic prongs that fit into the nostrils, with soft pillows around them, held in place by a band that goes over the top of the head. It connects to the air supply system, a small device that is easy to carry on trips.
If you are interested or know someone who should be, call our office for more information: 949-600-5100.
Allan Sosin MD