Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pain Medications May Cause Sleep Apnea

According to at least one study, sleep disordered breathing, including sleep apnea, was common among users of opioid pain medications for chronic pain. The study, published in the journal Pain Medicine, showed that up to three-quarters of users of opioid pain medications suffered from sleep apnea, nearly 10 times the rate in the general population.

Although many of the sufferers had obstructive sleep apnea, up to a third of them suffered from central sleep apnea. In addition, the researchers found that there was a dose-dependent effect of certain opioid pain medications on the severity of central sleep apnea. Methadone and benzodiazepines had dose-dependent relationships with the severity of central sleep apnea.

Unfortunately, pain medication and sleep apnea have a vicious cyclical relationship. Sleep apnea sufferers often see less effect from pain relievers, which may trigger them to move on to stronger opioid medication for chronic pain, which then will increase the severity of their sleep apnea. As sleep apnea worsens, people suffer an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other potentially deadly health consequences.

If you are taking chronic pain medication or if you have chronic pain that you are considering medication for, you should be evaluated for sleep apnea so that you can receive appropriate treatment to reduce the risks associated with this vicious cycle.

To learn more about sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatments, please contact a local sleep dentist today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Study Confirms Long-Term Effectiveness of Behavioral Treatment for Sleep Apnea

We have long known that behavioral treatment is an effective complement to other types of obstructive sleep apnea treatment. Now a recent study has confirmed its long-term effectiveness is so great that for some patients it may completely replace other forms of treatment.

The study, published in the BMJ, builds on initial results for a short-term trial in which patients were put on a very-low calorie diet for nine weeks in order to lose weight. The patients were then given counseling and advice about nutrition and exercise for one year. Over the year, patients who had lost weight maintained the weight lost, and many saw significant improvement in their sleep apnea. 48% of patients on the diet program no longer required CPAP for their sleep apnea, and 10% saw complete remission of their sleep apnea.

Behavioral treatment is not always the best option, but it is almost always an effective complement for people looking to get the best treatment possible for their obstructive sleep apnea. If you are being prescribed CPAP treatment and you feel your doctor has not adequately considered other treatment alternatives, perhaps you need a second opinion.

To learn more about treatment alternatives, please contact a local sleep dentist today.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hotel Launches "Anti-Snoring Room"

Crowne Plaza is the first hotel chain to offer what it describes as "snore absorption rooms." These rooms are ostensibly the result of research that has been done on the impact of snoring on UK couples' snoring habits. According to the research, snorers' cosleepers lose between one and five hours of sleep a night due to their partners' sleep disordered breathing. A similar proportion also reports that their vacations are ruined by snoring, so anti-snoring rooms make sense for the satisfaction of a hotel's clients.

Supposedly, the snore absorption rooms use "proven" technology to reduce the noise of a snorer's breathing. This technology includes:

  • · Sound proofing on walls to absorb and deflect the sound of snoring
  • · Sound-absorbing headboards that supplement the sound absorption of the walls
  • · An anti-snoring bed wedge that encourages side-sleeping or upright sleeping, which can stop the sound created by positional snorers
  • · An anti-snoring pillow which uses "rare" neodymium magnets that open the airways and stiffens the upper palate to reduce sound
  • · A white sound machine that drowns out snoring

There is no doubt that this is a problem that needs a solution, but the one offered by Crowne Plaza is dubious. At best, their solution simply masks the problem, and some of the technologies they propose are effective only for a limited number of people, if at all.

Instead, people who want to ensure that snoring will never ruin another vacation should seek out an effective, comfortable, portable snoring solution. The solution that best meets these criteria is an oral appliance. An oral appliance is not only a convenient solution to snoring that travelers can easily be transported when on vacation, it can also be used to treat the serious condition that snoring may signal: obstructive sleep apnea.

If you want to learn how you can reduce or eliminate your snoring for every vacation, please contact a local sleep dentist today to be evaluated for an oral appliance.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Medicare Now Covers Oral Appliance Therapy

Beginning in January of this year, Medicare began funding the use of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea. This will allow seniors to get the sleep apnea treatment that is best suited for them, treatment that is comfortable, flexible, and effective. What's more, unlike many private insurance companies, Medicare does not require that you first attempt to use CPAP before seeking oral appliance therapy.

In order to get coverage for your oral appliance therapy, you must meet these criteria:

  • Have an evaluation by a treating physician prior to determine that you should be screened for obstructive sleep apnea
  • Your sleep test must find one of the following:
  • AHI or RDI of 15 events per hour with at least 30 events total
  • AHI or RDI of at least 5 with ten events total AND documentation of certain sleep apnea signs or symptoms
  • AHI or RDI >30, but you cannot tolerate CPAP or are otherwise not a good CPAP candidate
  • Your doctor orders the device
  • The device is provided and billed by a licensed dentist

In addition, not all oral appliances are covered. To meet the coding guidelines for coverage, oral appliances must:

  • Have a hinged or jointed mechanism
  • Be able to advance the mandible
  • Able to achieve mandible advancement beyond the front teeth
  • Be adjustable by you in increments of one millimeter
  • Be capable of retaining adjustment when removed

As a result, tongue positioning appliances are not covered.

We can help you understand which oral appliances meet the coding guidelines for coverage. To learn more, please schedule an appointment with a local sleep dentist today.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Snoring In Children Is Dangerous According To New Study in Sleep Medicine.

A new study (PubMed abstract below) showed that even snoring (Primary Snoring = PS) is dangerous in children and like sleep apnea can lead to "behavioral, attention, and executive function difficulties are present in children with PS as well as OSAS. These results have implications for the treatment of milder forms of SDB, particularly PS, which is commonly viewed as benign."

Snoring in children can no longer be considered benign and should be carefully evaluated as it can affect a childs ability to learn and succeed.

Sleep Med. 2011 Mar;12(3):222-9. Epub 2011 Feb 15.
Neurobehavioral function is impaired in children with all severities of sleep disordered breathing.
Bourke RS, Anderson V, Yang JS, Jackman AR, Killedar A, Nixon GM, Davey MJ, Walker AM, Trinder J, Horne RS.

Critical Care and Neuroscience Research, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is common in children and ranges in severity from primary snoring (PS), to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). This study investigated everyday function (behavior, attention, executive skills) in children with varying degrees of SDB and control children with no history of SDB recruited from the community.

One hundred thirty-six children aged 7-12 were studied. Routine overnight polysomnography (PSG) classified children into 4 groups: PS (n=59), mild OSAS (n=24), moderate/severe OSAS (n=18), and controls (n=35). Behavioral function and behavioral aspects of attention and executive function were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF).

Children with all severities of SDB had significantly higher rates of total, internalizing and externalizing behavioral problems compared to control children. Increased rates of behavioral executive dysfunction were also found across the SDB spectrum.

Our findings suggest that behavioral, attention, and executive function difficulties are present in children with PS as well as OSAS. These results have implications for the treatment of milder forms of SDB, particularly PS, which is commonly viewed as benign.

Pillars Do Not Reduce CPAP Pressure or Increase CPAP compliance.

Patients with sleep apnea are frequently looking for an easy surgical procedure to treat their sleep apnea. Pillar surgery was intially considered to be a treatment for sleep apnea but has been relegated to a treatment for simple snoring coming from the soft palate.


A new study (PubMed abstract below)looked at Pillar Surgery to see if it increased compliance in CPAP users or decreased CPAP pressures. Sadly, this was not the case. The study published in Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery concluded that "Pillar implants do not significantly reduce CPAP pressure or increase CPAP compliance compared to sham controls but may subjectively improve CPAP satisfaction. These findings do not presently support the use of Pillar implants as an adjunctive treatment to improve CPAP compliance."

I advise patients who are looking for a surgical "cure" for sleep apnea avoid pillar surgery. Surgical interventions that can "cure sleep apnea" are available. The most successful is bimaxillary advancement. Base of tongue reduction is also successful but I strongly recommend doing it with the somnoplasty method to avoid adverse surgical consequences.

For the severely obese CPAP and tracheotomy are the most successful treatments. Mild to moderate sleep apnea is best treated with CPAP or Oral Appliances.

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011 Feb;144(2):230-6. Epub 2010 Dec 29.
Effect of palatal implants on continuous positive airway pressure and compliance.
Gillespie MB, Wylie PE, Lee-Chiong T, Rapoport DM.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425-5500, USA.

Determine if the Pillar palatal implant system reduces continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) pressure and improves patient compliance with CPAP therapy.

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Four geographically dispersed tertiary sleep disorder referral centers.

Subjects with mild to moderate sleep apnea dissatisfied with CPAP because of pressure-related complaints were randomized to receive Pillar implants or a sham procedure performed in double-blind fashion. Active and sham groups were compared for changes in therapeutic CPAP pressures (primary outcome) with a 90-day follow-up sleep study and CPAP compliance (secondary outcome) with a 90-day smart card report.

Twenty-six subjects were randomized to Pillar implants and 25 to a sham implant procedure. There were no differences between groups with regard to demographics and baseline parameters. Both sham and active groups had reduced mean CPAP pressure (-1.1 vs -0.5 cm H(2)O) with no difference between groups (P = .32) at 90-day follow-up. In addition, there was no difference in average daily CPAP use between groups (P = .80). Both groups experienced improvements in Epworth sleepiness scores and Functional Outcome of Sleep Questionnaire scores at 90 days with no differences between groups. The active group reported significantly higher CPAP satisfaction scores than the sham group (P = .04).

Pillar implants do not significantly reduce CPAP pressure or increase CPAP compliance compared to sham controls but may subjectively improve CPAP satisfaction. These findings do not presently support the use of Pillar implants as an adjunctive treatment to improve CPAP compliance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]