Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Military Keeps Airmen Deployable Despite Sleep Apnea - Dentists Help with Treatment

An Air Force Times article reports that the Air Force is cracking down on medical waivers in response to a growing number of service members who cannot deploy.

Airmen with medical waivers will face health reviews as frequently as once a month. In the past, someone’s deployment status could go for more than a year without being updated.

So far, the stricter policy has worked. In 2006, 2.16 percent of airmen could not deploy. Today, that number is down to 0.26 percent, or roughly 760 airmen.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one condition that restricts where airmen can deploy. But it does not prevent deployment.

Sandy conditions make it difficult to maintain breathing equipment, such as CPAP, in some parts of the world. But airmen with OSA can still deploy to other areas.

Oral appliances offer an alternative for airmen who cannot bring their CPAP machine with them on duty. Oral appliances are portable, silent and do not need electricity.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances as an alterative to CPAP.

Oral appliance therapy is indicated for mild to moderate OSA patients if they prefer it to CPAP, cannot tolerate CPAP, or are unable to use positional therapy or weight loss to control their apnea. Oral appliances (OAs) are also recommended for severe OSA patients if they cannot tolerate CPAP.

Oral appliances look like mouth guards. They are fitted by trained dentists

Read more posts about the risks of untreated sleep apnea in the military here.

Image by Mark Poblete

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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.