BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - There's no such thing as a good night's sleep for Mike Oster. The Pensacola resident suffers from a serve case of obstructive sleep apnea. When he sleeps, the muscles around his airway relax too much and block his airway.
Ear, nose, and throat surgeon, Dr. Kevin McLaughlin, explains when the brain senses you can't breathe, it wakes up just enough to stimulate your throat and open the airway. That often results in the choking, snoring sounds so many loved ones of sleep apnea patients know. The extra brain activity also prevents the patient from fully resting at night.
"It would be like someone constantly shaking you every 10 to 15 seconds telling you to hey, take a breath," said McLaughlin.
Lack of sleep can lead to several serious health problems, including increased risk for high blood pressure and heart attack.
While a CPAP machine is the go-to treatment for sleep apnea, Oster says the machine doesn't work. He's also had several surgeries, removing tissue from his throat in an attempt to prevent blockages. However, he says nothing has helped. Oster's search for relief brought him to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital for a new surgical solution, a small implant called Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation.
The device is surgically implanted in the chest with sensors running to the throat and chest. While asleep, the device monitors breathing. If it senses the airway is blocked, it stimulates the airway muscles to open without awaking the brain or the patient. The device is remote controlled and can be turned on at bed time.
"The thing that's revolutionary about this device is it's going to allow us to stimulate the tongue muscles to increase that tone, make the throat open up without making his brain to be aroused," said McLaughlin.
That means the patient can get a full night's rest, and that's exactly what Oster is hoping for. "I'm hoping it will change my life," said Oster.
McLaughlin explains the device is not for every patient, and there are some physical qualifications. For more information on how it works, click here.