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Are You a Candidate for Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy?

Snoring is a common ailment that affects 37 million Americans on a regular basis.

Snoring is responsible for many social, physical, and mental health issues, but for some chronic snorers, it can be indicative of a more serious health problem: obstructive sleep apnea. Many products and some highly reviewed snoring devices are very successful in reducing snoring but are not approved by the FDA for sleep apnea. The SnoreRx, ZQuiet and other mouth guards all are reputable products that have helped many stop snoring.

Sleep apnea is diagnosed as multiple, extended pauses in the breathing pattern of a person during the night. Suffers often wake frequently during the night from coughing, gasping for air, or wheezing.

The lack of oxygen caused by these pauses is linked to poor sleep quality and a host of other health problems including hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

The most common treatment option for sleep apnea is the CPAP machine which works by increasing the air pressure in a sleeper’s throat to avoid the tissue of the throat collapsing and closing the airway.

However, while the CPAP machine has been shown to be a highly effective method for treating sleep apnea, there are many cases in which alternative treatments are necessary.

When a CPAP Machine Isn’t Right for You

It is suggested that approximately 50% of CPAP users are unable to tolerant the machine. This can be due to the discomfort of the mask and tubing, leaking masks, or they simply do not see any improvement in their sleep apnea symptoms.

Some patients also complain about the noise the machine, and the restricted movement during sleep still causes them to experience poor sleep quality and impacts the sleep quality of their bed partner.

In some cases, simple tweaks to the fit or pressure of the machine can remedy these issues. However, other patients may find they need to try alternative therapies to help them stop snoring.

Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation Therapy

Unlike other sleep apnea and snoring solutions, Upper Airway Stimulation works with the natural breathing rhythms of your body and is the best alternative to CPAP treatment and oral snoring aids.

Sleep apnea studies have shown that the Inspire implant reduced the number of respiratory events per hour by 50%, and a 25% decrease in the number of times their oxygen levels dipped below healthy levels.

Who is a Candidate for the Inspire Implant?

For patients looking to try Inspire, there are many criteria your doctor needs to consider before they can recommend the surgery.

You must be considered to have moderate to severe sleep apnea measured as experiencing more than 25 respiratory events per hour.

Your soft palate will also need to be evaluated to ensure it does not demonstrate a complete collapse. If your soft palate collapses while under sedation, the implant will not be useful in preventing tongue collapse.

You will also need to show you experience an intolerance to the CPAP machine, or that the machine fails to alleviate your symptoms. Your doctor usually defines the criteria for intolerance or CPAP failure. Generally, it means you tried the machine for an extended period during which time you were unable to use it successfully for more than four hours per night for five consecutive nights.

doctor in a lab coatWhich Patients Are Not Candidates for Inspire?

There are some cases in which the implant has contraindications that negatively impact patients.

You should not try the Inspire if you already have an implanted device such as a pacemaker or deep brain stimulator to avoid cross-stimulation.

If you suffer from non-obstructive sleep apnea, such as central or complex apneas, the Inspire implant may not be helpful. This also applies to patients with anatomical abnormalities that impact the upper airway.

Finally, you should not use Inspire if you suffer from a neurological disorder that impacts the control of the upper airway.

How Upper Airway Stimulation Works

If you are a candidate for the Inspire surgery, here is what you need to know about the implant.

The FDA approved implant monitors your every breath, and based on your breathing patterns, delivers mild electric stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve of your tongue to ensure the tongue and surrounding tissue do not obstruct the airway.

The implanted device is controlled by a handheld remote control that allows patients to switch the device on or off as needed, as well as increase or decrease the level of stimulation.

What to Expect From the Surgery

The simple outpatient procedure consists of three small incisions. The first is made under the chin to connect the wire to the hypoglossal nerve at the base of the tongue. The second is made under the collarbone to position the power source. Finally, the third incision is made between the fourth and fifth rib to position the sensor which monitors your breathing.

The implant will not be activated for the first month to facilitate the patient’s full recovery. Then the patient returns to the clinic to activate the device and set the parameters according to their own body’s breathing process.


It is important to continually monitor your sleep apnea symptoms to ensure your treatment is working effectively. You can do this by booking a follow-up sleep study with your doctor, keeping a sleep journal, or checking in with your bed partner each morning.

The Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation device is the next evolutionary step in sleep apnea treatment. Consult with your health-care professional today to discuss the benefits of Inspire for treating your sleep apnea so you can stop snoring and enjoy a good night’s rest.


About the Author Robert J. Hudson

Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!

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