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June 11, 2018

The Fascinating History of Sleep Apnea

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_auster @ 3:39 pm

snoring problemsWhat did Queen Victoria, Teddy Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill all have in common? Yes, they were prominent leaders throughout history, but they were also all known to snore. We can’t say for a certainty that they had obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but it’s a very real possibility that these great individuals had this common disorder. Do you have sleep apnea in Pomona? If so, you might be interested in learning more about the background of this condition and how treatment has evolved over the centuries.

Pickwickian Syndrome

Sleep apnea isn’t a new disorder. It’s reasonable to assume that it has been around for thousands of years; our ancestors simply never had the medical knowledge to properly diagnose and treat it.

One of the earliest names for sleep apnea was Pickwickian Syndrome, which came from a Charles Dickens story, The Pickwick Papers. An overweight character in the novel exhibited all of the signs of this sleep disorder. Unfortunately, the researchers who wanted to learn more about Pickwickian Syndrome focused solely on body weight as the cause. While it is true that obesity often plays a role in OSA, it isn’t the only contributing factor. Further investigation was necessary for doctors to gain a thorough understanding of this condition.

The Dawn of Understanding OSA

In the 1950s and 1960s, researchers delved deeper into sleep apnea and its causes. They finally began to understand that, rather than just being a collection of symptoms, sleep apnea had a root cause — brief periods wherein a person stopped breathing at night.

In the 1970s, doctors experimented on dogs to try out different treatments for sleep apnea. They even used tracheotomies because it was the only way they could think of to get past the airflow blockage caused by sleep apnea! It wasn’t until the 1980s that Collin Sullivan came up with the idea for a CPAP machine, which eventually turned into the most common treatment for sleep apnea.

Modern Sleep Apnea Treatment in Pomona

CPAP machines are still a popular treatment for folks who suffer from OSA. However, many people find that their CPAP mask is uncomfortable. Fortunately, an alternative solution is available to most folks who have a mild to moderate form of sleep apnea. A custom oral appliance, designed by a skilled dentist in Pomona, gently repositions the jaw at night, allowing for freer airflow. It is a convenient and portable way to achieve a better night’s rest.

Diagnosis of and treatment for sleep apnea have come a long way since the days of Pickwickian Syndrome! We can all be grateful that modern medicine provides us with reliable and comfortable ways to find relief from OSA.

About the Dentist

Dr. Peter Auster is proud to serve as your general and cosmetic dentist in Pomona. In addition to caring for his patients’ smiles, he also looks after their overall well-being by offering sleep apnea therapy. If you would like to talk to him about your OSA, please contact our office at 845-364-0400.

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