A New Treatment Option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

2 min read  |  May 30, 2023  | 
Disponible en Español |

Heavy snoring wasn’t only preventing Donn Atkins from getting a good night’s sleep.

“I was sleeping, and I would get woken up sometimes with an elbow,” says Donn.

Donn had obstructive sleep apnea, so he went to see Maria Suurna, M.D., an otolaryngologist who specializes in sleep medicine at the University of Miami Health System.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder of airway obstruction,” Dr. Suurna says. “A lot of times it leads to symptoms such as snoring, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, not waking up feeling rested, morning headaches.”

When standard treatments didn’t work, Donn turned to a surgical solution.

Dr. Suurna implanted a small device which helps to open up the airway, allowing him to breathe normally and get a good night’s sleep for the first time in years.

“Nerve stimulation treatment is a newer way of treating obstructive sleep apnea. It’s a device that gets implanted under the skin and connects to the hypoglossal nerve – a nerve that innervates muscles of the tongue and upper airway. So, what this device does, it provides stimulation to the upper airway muscles during sleep, and it keeps the airway open,” says Dr. Suurna.

Patients operate the device using a remote control.

“When it’s time to turn it on, you push this button,” Donn says.

Donn says he and his wife are now sleeping soundly thanks to Dr. Suurna and the UHealth team.

“I find myself much better rested with this. And it’s just you feel much better,” says Donn.

Maria Suurna, M.D., is an otolaryngologist who specializes in sleep medicine and sleep surgery at UHealth. For information on sleep treatments and services, click here.

Video transcript compiled by Janna Ross for ‘Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine,’ a series of health care-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10.  For more stories like this one, visit UHealth’s YouTube channel.

Tags: Dr. Maria Suurna, focusing on you, nerve stimulation treatment, obstructive sleep apnea, otolaryngology, sleep apnea, sleep medicine, sleep surgery, snoring

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