New Device Could Help Sleep Apnea Sufferers - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

New Device Could Help Sleep Apnea Sufferers

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It may not always happen, but we all strive to get good, restful sleep each night. However, some people can't get enough rest because of a condition called sleep apnea.

Treatment for the condition traditionally involves masks and machines, but a new device could help those with sleep apnea get all the sleep they need.

Laurie Penland's snoring was much more than a nuisance. A sleep study revealed it.

"Like 10 times I stopped breathing in the middle of the night, and about 81 times I woke up," she said.

The 54-year-old New Albany mom had been suffering for years with exhaustion.

"I'd be OK during the day, but by the time I got home, I didn't want to do anything. I just sat down on the couch and I was just done," she said.

So she tried a new treatment that was just approved by the FDA.

"It's a small device, virtually silent," said Dr. Jim Fulop, of Sleep Medicine at Riverside Methodist Hospital.

The device is called Winx, and it's an alternative to the C-Pap machine without straps or masks.

Fulop said the device creates a suction and pulls the soft pallet and tongue forward to open up the back of the throat.

With sleep apnea, as the body relaxes into deep sleep, so do the throat muscles and you stop breathing while sleeping. Often, the patient has no clue they have it.

"Certainly, one could die in the night. Long term effects, tired, concentration, memory, but also very real things such as high blood pressure, heart rhythm, atrial fibrillation," Fulop said.

Penland, who has a family history of heart problems, tried Winx.

"The third night, I slept clear through the night for the first time in I can't tell you how long," she said.

While it's not for everyone, it's an option for those struggling with health and sleep problems.

"If you already have high blood pressure and diabetes and you're tired all the time, you probably should get checked out," Fulop said.

A sleep test at a sleep center is the standard for diagnosis, but you can also test at home now.

The price tag for Winx is $250, and often insurance covers the cost.

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