There are around 12 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea, which is known as a possible life-threatening condition. The most prescribed means for controlling this and its symptoms is the CPAP machine which is found to be very bulky and uncomfortable by many.

Inspire Medical Systems has been testing an alternative treatment in the form of an implanted device. This device is said to stimulate the nerves in the tongue and leads to the opening of airways while sleeping, thus a person sleeps better.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. This is characterized by the collapse and blockage of airway that results to shallow breathing or breathing pauses. Breathing pauses may last for a few seconds to minutes and happens 5 to 30 times in an hour. Overweight people are more prone to having OSA.

When untreated, sleep apnea may heighten the risk of heart attack, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity and heart failure. When a person with sleep apnea does not get enough sleep, the tendency of driving and work-related accident is higher.

Because of this, Inspire Medical Systems in Minneapolis MN has come up with a device to help stimulate the hypoglossal nerve in the tongue by using mid electrical current. The device is implanted under the skin near the collarbone. A wire is used to attach the device to the hypoglossal nerve. A sensor is placed at the diaphragm and gives signal to the implant to give current when a patient takes a breath.

Patients will be able to turn on the device when they are about to go to bed with the use of a remote control and preset it to turn on and off at specific times. Inspire has been planning to test this to 100 people suffering from sleep apnea in January.