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A Brief Snapshot of the History of Sleep Apnea & Its Treatment

July 11, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepbetterchicagoland @ 1:47 pm

woman unable to sleep due to noiseCases of sleep apnea are on the rise in the United States, and, given its increasing prevalence, it can seem like this is a relatively new condition. But experts know that’s not actually the case — in fact, symptoms of sleep apnea have been observed for hundreds of years. It is only with the rise in obesity rates that sleep apnea has also skyrocketed. Keep reading to get a better grasp of the long history of this condition and how it can be overcome with sleep apnea treatment in Chicago.

First Cases

Sleep apnea was first identified and officially named as a medical condition in the late 20th century, but records from centuries before indicate that people were indeed experiencing the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea — they just didn’t know it yet. Indeed, one of Charles Dickens’ characters in The Pickwick Papers was overweight, tired, and known for his snoring. Unfortunately for Joe (and his apneatic contemporaries), there was no solution for this mysterious syndrome at that time.

Uptick in Research

By the middle of the 20th century, researchers had grown more interested in the cause of what we now know as sleep apnea symptoms — and why they usually happened together. By the 1960s, it was known that the problem lay in the fact that people were not getting enough sleep. This discovery meant science was that much closer to finding a solution for the problem.

Studies into why and how continued until the development of the CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine. This tool is still in use and works by forcing air into the lungs during sleep, keeping the airway open to allow the patient to breathe fully throughout the night.

Today’s Treatment

CPAP therapy continues to be a go-to for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, but it is not the only method of treatment. Some people find this approach to be more disruptive than the original OSA symptoms. They will often find relief with an oral appliance, which is a small device that works by repositioning the lower jaw to prevent its collapse throughout the night.

More severe cases of sleep apnea may require combined therapy, which includes both a CPAP and an oral appliance. In more complex cases, surgical treatment may be required.

In addition to seeking professional treatment, we now know that certain lifestyle changes can also help to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. These include:

  • Adopting weight loss strategies, like eating better or exercising more
  • Reducing alcohol consumption before bed
  • Adjusting medication that may be affecting sleep

Sleep apnea is nothing new, but today’s sufferers are fortunate that we know much more about this condition than we once did. If you are suffering from chronic fatigue and exhaustion, seek out treatment for sleep apnea in Chicago right away.

Meet the Practice

Dr. David B. Schwartz is a trusted sleep dentist and the Dental Director with the Center for Sleep Medicine. As a leader in the field of sleep dentistry, Dr. Schwartz provides customized solutions for patients with a variety of needs. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, do not hesitate to contact his office by calling 847-677-2808.

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