Approximately 15-20% of men and 10% of women who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea don’t even know it, and these percentages are increasing quickly. With an increasing number of people with sleep problems, there’s also a growing need for sleep medicine physicians and sleep centers. In order to help meet this need, Dr. Barry Fields is a board-certified sleep medicine physician who works in telemedicine—reaching patients from all over the country who are unable to sleep and suffering because of it. He’s lectured extensively across the country, co-authored the AASM sleep telemedicine handbook, and become an overall leader in the field.
Dr. Fields makes for an insightful and informative episode today, discussing a number of topics, including the mechanism of apnea and the collapse of the airway that characterizes it, the nature of sleep telemedicine (both from the perspective of the physician and the patient), the difference between obstructive and central sleep apnea and how the treatment methods differ for each, the most common complaints he encounters from patients, and environmental and genetic causes of sleep apnea.
He also discusses novel treatments for sleep apnea aided by new technology, such as the hypoglossal nerve stimulator which is placed in the chest much like a pacemaker and functions to stimulate the nerves responsible for moving the tongue forward in the mouth, thereby opening the airway. One of the newest technologies developed for the treatment of central sleep apnea is an implantable device that stimulates the phrenic nerve in the diaphragm, which also triggers the movement of the tongue and the opening of the airway.
Press play to hear the full conversation and to learn how to get yourself or your loved one help for their sleep problem.