Friday, November 6, 2009

Marching Towards Better Sleep

In October, the Official Blog of the AADSM reported that service members are at risk for daytime sleepiness when deployed. In part, this is because CPAP treatment can be hard to comply with while traveling.

study by researchers at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC gave more evidence that an oral appliance (OA) is a good alternative treatment for apnea patients in the military. These devices are both portable and compact.

Untreated apnea can lead to cognitive impairment and daytime sleepiness. So it is important for deployed service members to keep treating their apnea.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) involves the fitting and adjustment of OAs, which look like mouth guards and are worn at night. These devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep an open airway.

The researchers assessed 638 sleep apnea patients. More than 85 percent of them were male.

Overall, OAs successfully treated half the patients.

OAT benefited people with mild sleep apnea the most. More than 65 percent of people with mild apnea responded to OAT.

In contrast, half of moderate apneics responded and 35 percent of severe apneics benefited.

An estimated 25 percent of the patients did not tolerate their OA. An additional 25 percent did not successfully respond to OAT.

The researchers concluded that OA is more effective in patients with mild apnea. But those with moderate to severe apnea may also benefit.

In a deployed military setting when CPAP is not an option, oral appliances hold even more advantages.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.