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Sleep Apnea

Penn Sleep Centers Offer New Technology for Sleep Apnea

As many as 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women suffer from sleep apnea, making it one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States. It is also potentially dangerous.

The term “sleep apnea” refers to interruptions in breathing during sleep. Muscles that hold the airway open when we are awake relax during sleep. When this loose tissue vibrates during sleep, it produces the sound of snoring. If the tissue in the back of the throat actually collapses during sleep, it blocks the airway and prevents air from getting to the lungs, which causes sleep apnea to occur. Although not all individuals with sleep apnea are obese, there is a strong link between weight and sleep apnea. As you gain weight, your neck becomes thicker, increasing the fat in the back of the throat and making the airway more likely to collapse during sleep.

For those with sleep apnea, there are several treatment options available including the use of oral appliances, weight loss, or surgery to minimize or remove tissue in the throat. However, the most effective treatment for sleep apnea is the use of the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

A CPAP machine is used to help the patient maintain an open airway during sleep. While they sleep, patients wear a mask connected to a small pump to ensure continuous breathing. For most new patients, wearing the mask takes some adjustment, but the innovations and technology at Penn have helped make CPAP more tolerable.

“The new units are quiet, smaller for travel, and easy to use. Most importantly, the new technology allows us to identify and correct possible problems at the start of the treatment. Even experienced CPAP patients admit to some difficulties when they first started CPAP. Previously, specific problems could not be identified, and many patients struggled or just gave up. Now, we have more choices of mask types and designs which may be a better fit and more comfortable for different individuals,” says Sharon Schutte-Rodin, MD, DABSM, clinical outcomes program director of the Penn Sleep Center.

Penn recently introduced new CPAP technology that allows the doctors to track information on patient’s sleeping patterns while they sleep. It lets the patient and sleep center know when there is a mask leak, whether apnea has been eliminated and whether the machine is being used on a nightly basis.

“We have a program to call patients and follow-up on CPAP use and tracking data. Patients seem happily surprised when we call and ask if they have questions or problems. Additionally, we have on-site daily CPAP clinics for new and experienced CPAP patients to talk with staff about their progress and to see new masks and equipment. Patients bring in their masks and other equipment for retraining, refitting of masks or equipment adjustments. A few minor changes can make a world of difference in making CPAP comfortable and easier to use,” says Christy Cellucci, Penn Sleep Centers CPAP coordinator.

Penn offers five accredited sleep centers with state-of-the-art diagnostic services and treatments for people suffering from all types of sleep disorders. Services and programs include outpatient visits, comprehensive overnight sleep studies or daytime nap studies. Your physician may recommend a sleep evaluation or directly refer you to one of our sleep centers for a sleep study. The Penn Sleep Center is one of only three sleep centers in the United States designated by the National Institutes of Health as a specialized center for sleep research, with doctors who are dedicated to helping you find and receive the best treatment available.

For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 800-789-PENN.



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