There’s a smartphone app for seemingly everything these days, including helping to diagnose some potential health problems, such as sleep apnea.
Although the sleep apnea apps discussed here may alert you to sleep apnea indicators, it’s important to seek a medical assessment and treatment with a knowledgeable dentist or physician. If you live in the Austin, Texas, area and you or a loved one suffers from regular snoring or other sleep apnea symptoms, please call Dr. Dan Matthews at 512-452-2273 to schedule your personal consultation.
How do Sleep Apnea Apps Work?
There are a number of sleep apnea apps available, and their success rates vary. However, two recent apnea apps, developed by medical researchers at the University of Washington and Oxford University respectively, haven proven highly accurate in assessing signs of sleep apnea in a majority of individuals.
The UW application, known as ApneaApp, monitors body movements related to breathing by essentially turning your smartphone into a sonar system that bounces sound signals off your body and processes their reflections. Sleep apnea sufferers experience frequent stops in breathing during sleep, and they are often restless sleepers.
The ApneaApp’s algorithms can identify these apnea events associated with obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, the most common forms of this potentially deadly sleep disorder. In clinical testing, the application detected apnea events with 98 percent accuracy.
At Oxford, a research team led by PhD student Joachim Behar developed an app that monitors breathing and body movements, but also includes evaluation questions a doctor would ask as part of a comprehensive sleep apnea evaluation. The SleepAp can also read wireless medical devices including a pulse meter, another aid in sleep apnea diagnosis.
The Hidden Risks of Sleep Apnea
The apps are especially promising because many who suffer from sleep apnea are not aware of its presence.
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea—snoring, fatigue, daytime drowsiness—are relatively vague. But without treatment, sleep apnea can lead to a heightened risk of life-threatening health problems including diabetes, stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure.
The breathing interruptions caused by sleep apnea lead to decreased oxygen in the bloodstream and a lack of healthy, restful sleep. Sleep apnea is thought to affect more than 18 million adults in America alone.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
As techniques for assessing sleep apnea have evolved, so have methods for treating it.
The use of a continuous-positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is the traditional method for fighting sleep apnea. CPAP works by delivering a constant flow of air as you sleep via a small mask connected to an air circulator. Although CPAP can be effective, many people find the mask cumbersome and discontinue its use.
An increasing number of patients are learning that custom-made oral appliances can also successfully treat sleep apnea. These comfortable, form-fitting devices help hold your jaw in place and promote an open air passage as you sleep. There are a number of appliances available suited to a wide range of conditions.
If you or a family member suffers from loud, chronic snoring or other symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact Dan Matthews, DDS, online or call our office at 512-452-2273. Dr. Matthews welcomes patients from and visitors to the greater Austin, Texas, area.