Alan Moses HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, 10 August 2023 (HealthDay News) — A small, battery-powered device long used to treat pain may also help people with sleep apnea, UK study finds. Suggested.
Sleep apnea is a condition that interferes with breathing during sleep, reduces oxygen uptake, and impairs sleep itself.
Treatment involves zapping the sleeper with continuous and controlled electrical pulses to open blocked airways, improve breathing, and restore sleep.
“Patients with sleep apnea frequently stop breathing during sleep,” the study authors said. annual taxProfessor of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Lane Fox Unit/Sleep Disorders Centre, King’s College London.
The condition is often accompanied by snoring, and sleep is often fragmented, making patients overly tired the next day, Steier said.
To address this problem, patients are commonly prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose while you sleep. It is attached to a machine that pumps air to keep the airway open. CPAP helps many patients, but some struggle to get used to it.
“This remedy only works if people use it,” he said. Dr. Andrew Varga, a neuroscientist and physician at the Mount Sinai Integrative Sleep Center in New York City. “And people may find it difficult to tolerate CPAP machines, so they may only use them some nights, or only part of the night.”
In fact, researchers noted that 75% of CPAP users discontinue use within three months.
This study was recently published online. e clinical medicine, Steyr’s team looked at a low-cost, over-the-counter, battery-powered machine called TENS. The name is an abbreviation for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator.
This stimulates the hypoglossal nerve, which runs from the base of the brain through the neck and ends under the base of the tongue.
At bedtime, the user applies electrodes embedded in adhesive pads to the base of the neck and upper back. When the machine is turned on, a series of light pulses of electricity are sent to the nerves and muscles to keep the airways open.
The technology is already helping patients deal with arthritis and the pain of childbirth.
Steyr said the researchers wondered if one aspect of sleep apnea might work for sleep apnea. Apnea is often accompanied by a loss of muscle tone in the neck, which usually helps keep the airway open during sleep.
According to Steyr, the theory was that the electrical stimulation provided by the TENS machine kept the muscles active during sleep. Doing so increases the patient’s tension, keeping the airway open and preventing shortness of breath, he explained.
From 2018 to 2023, Steyr and colleagues tested TENS in 56 sleep apnea patients. The average age of men and women is mid to late 50s.
About half were randomly given a portable TENS machine that they could operate themselves at home, allowing them to fine-tune the intensity of electrical stimulation that was most suitable for them. Others continued regular CPAP therapy.
After 3 months, the severity of sleep apnea was assessed. The researchers found that the TENS group had increased undisturbed breathing capacity during sleep and significantly reduced daytime fatigue.
Some had mild side effects. One had a mild headache and several others had mild dermatitis where the adhesive pads were applied to the skin.
Patients who had previously used CPAP tolerated TENS very well, Steier said. However, not everyone with sleep apnea benefits.
“We’ve seen so far that some people respond and some people don’t,” he noted. “The bigger the neck, the further the patch is from the problem muscle. It is an estimate.)
Such patients can still rely on CPAP therapy, which Steyr says is “an excellent treatment” for those who use it as intended.
He said all patients should try CPAP first, and doctors should only seek alternatives if that fails.
“Using a simple TENS machine could be a real alternative for those who have failed primary therapy,” Steyr said of the study’s findings. “And we should consider developing additional ways to control sleep apnea in people who do not continue CPAP therapy.”
After reviewing the findings, Varga responded with cautious encouragement.
“It’s not entirely clear to me how or why the TENS intervention works for sleep apnea,” he stressed, noting that the researchers “demonstrated a conclusive effect.” I have not,” he added.
At the same time, the data suggest that TENS interventions may help, Varga said.
“Well, I think it’s worth further research,” he said.
Source: Joerg Steier, RCP, PhD, Professor, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Lane Fox Unit/Sleep Disorders Center, King’s College London, UK. Andrew Varga, M.D., Neuroscientist and Physician at the Mount Sinai Center for Integrative Sleep and Associate Professor of Respiratory, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York City. e clinical medicineAugust March 2023, Online
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