Health

This New Tongue-Strengthening Device Could Stop Your Chronic Snoring

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When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, chances are a little snoring has gotten in the way here and there — whether it was you waking up from your own snoring or being awoken by a partner’s.

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According to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, over 45 percent of American adults snore occasionally, while 25 percent snore more regularly, often keeping themselves and anyone else in the room up in the process. While sleep instruments targeting snoring aren’t new, there’s a new device on the market that could make a big difference for people suffering from mild snoring.

What causes snoring?

Snoring happens to all of us from time to time, but habitual snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, which is a condition where your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, where your airway is blocked from the throat muscles relaxing. The sounds you hear often occur when air has trouble flowing past those relaxed tissues. In contrast, central sleep apnea, another major type, happens when your brain isn’t sending the right signals to your body to control breathing while you’re asleep.

If untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of a number of diseases and conditions, including insomnia, daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, glaucoma, cancer, and more.

Currently, many people with sleep apnea have to use bulky equipment at night when they go to bed to ensure their breathing is normal, which can be uncomfortable or make it impossible to drift off and stay asleep. (Not to mention, many of these devices just don’t look cute!) Thus, sleep researchers have continually looked into less obstructive ways to help the root causes of sleep apnea, including putting forth a new device that recently go the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How can a tongue-strengthening device help?

The FDA just approved a prescription device called eXciteOSA, which is the first daytime tongue-strengthening device for people with mild snoring or sleep apnea. It works by sending electrical pulses through a mouthpiece around the tongue to stimulate the muscles there. You can wear it while you do work, watch TV, read, or any other basic household activity; the pulses are light and not painful. In doing so, it works the tongue muscles so that it doesn’t collapse backwards during sleep and blocking airways in the process. To see the best results, the device should be used for 20 minutes a day for roughly six weeks and then once a week after that point to maintain that newly acquired tongue strength.

In a recent clinical trial using eXciteOSA with 115 snorers, including 48 diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, researchers said the device reduced time spent snoring by 20 percent in 87 participants. Moreover, snoring was decreased by 48 percent for the vast majority of patients who had mild sleep apnea.

Researchers are quick to point out that the device is approved only for people with mild cases; it may not be as effective for those with more severe diagnoses. Because it’s a prescription-only medical device, the eXciteOSA comes with a steeper price tag of $750, though you may be able to get that reduced with insurance. And while it may seem a bit expensive, it could be worth it to never wake up or someone else up from snoring again.

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