The Discovery, Evolution, and History of Sleep Apnea

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The Discovery, Evolution, and History of Sleep Apnea

The history of sleep apnea is actually quite interesting. The diagnosis and treatment of the condition has evolved exponentially in recent decades. We continue to learn more and more about this dangerous sleeping condition with every study. The truth is, this disorder is so much more complicated than we could have ever imagined.

Mark Levy DDS is passionate about treating sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. He keeps up to date on all the latest research and treatment options for this dangerous disorder. His goal is to help safely and effectively treat apnea patients to help them live a long and healthy life.

The History of Sleep Apnea

An obscure Charles Dickens novel by the name of “The Pickwick Papers” was the first place there was any mention of OSA. In this novel a condition is described that sounds very similar to OSA. Only then, OSA didn’t exist. However, a 20th century doctor recognized the symptoms and named the condition Pickwikian syndrome. At the time that Pickwikian Syndrome was named, the breathing condition was believed to affect only obese individuals. We have since learned that this is not always the case. Pickwikian Syndrome eventually evolved to encompass another, similar condition.

However, there was little history on OSA from the time that Pickwikian Syndrome was realized as a legitimate condition until 1965. The long gap in sleeping disorder history was finally broken when medical literature finally mentioned the condition which would come to be known as OSA.

Today’s definition of OSA is pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses range from seconds to minutes and can occur a few times per hour or closer to 50 per hour. The cessation of breathing affects nearly every system in your body in some way due to the lack of adequate sleep and lower oxygen levels.

The History of Sleep Apnea Treatment

There were few treatment options for OSA early on. The primary treatment was a tracheotomy. This was a drastic measure, and thankfully, the 1980s brought us less extreme methods of treatment. It was in the 80s when the first OSA machine, a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine was introduced. This non-invasive treatment option helps keep the airway open by gently using pressurized air. The pressurized air prevents the airway from being obstructed by travelling through a mask and hose directly into your airway.

This treatment option quickly became the standard for the sleeping disorder. Unfortunately, many people find this treatment option to be cumbersome or uncomfortable. This has led to compliance issues for those who suffer from the disorder. The treatment can be very effective, but only when actively and regularly used.

New Treatment Options for OSA

Continued research has provided additional OSA treatment options. One rising star for apnea patients is the dental appliance. A qualified dentist with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine can offer an alternative to the CPAP machine.

A dental appliance is a highly effective option for treating both snoring and OSA. Your dentist custom designes the appliance specifically for you. It helps improve sleep and health. It also has a much higher compliance rate than the CPAP machine due to its many benefits.

You only wear the dental applinance while you sleep. Many compare the fit to a sports guard or a retainer. The appliance supports your jaw in a position to help maintain an open airway. There are several types of appliances that have been cleared by the FDA. Speak with a dentist who specializes in the treatment of OSA to find the best appliance for you.

Patients love this treatment option and say that it’s comfortable, portable, easy to care for, and easy to wear. It also is quiet and less likely to disturb spouses or partners. Your dentist will custom build the appliance for your mouth using models and impressions of your teeth. This ensures that it fits you comfortably and works properly.

Just like with any OSA treatment, follow up visits will help ensure that the device is working effectively. It’s also important to participate in an annual assessment to ensure treatment success long-term.

The Benefits of Treating OSA using a Dental Appliance

The treatment benefits are obvious. Decreased OSA symptoms help you lead a better life. You’ll have reduced daytime drowsiness symptoms and your overall health will improve. These appliances allow people who suffer from this condition to benefit from a better night’s rest while maintaining optimum oxygen levels. You’ll have more energy and feel more alert. Many people also report improved memory and focus.  Using a dental appliance for OSA treatment also helps lower risk for developing the long term conditions associated with the dangerous sleeping disorder.

If you are newly diagnosed with OSA, or if you’ve already been diagnosed but your current treatment plan is ineffective, then give us a call to discuss using a dental appliance as an alternative treatment method.

Call Mark Levy DDS at (614) 777-7350 for more information on the treatment and history of sleep apnea.