Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The history of sleep apnea

As I have mentioned in a previous post my father had sleep apnea. I believe that his sleep apnea played a part in his heart problems and subsequent fatal heart attack. That was in 1977. No one at that time even mentioned that he might have had sleep apnea. Of course people have been suffering from this sleep disorder for a long time. Treatments for sleep apnea are relatively new.

The history of sleep apnea

Strangely enough the first mention of sleep apnea came in a round about way from literature. A 20th century physician, William Osler, a fan of Charles Dickens, noticed that one of the characters in the Pickwick Papers had a sleeping disorder that now could be considered Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Osler referred to patients who had similar problems as “Pickwickian. “

In 1965 a group of French Doctors, lead by Dr. Gastault determined that the interruption of sleep happened over and over again every night. In 1978 a Harvard Physician Dr. John Remmer made the connection between the blockage of the airway and the interruption of sleep. Dr Remmer also coined the phrase “obstructive Sleep Apnea.”

One of the earliest methods of relieving sleep apnea was having a Tracheotomy which was an extreme cure for sleep apnea.

The invention of the cpap (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) came about in 1981 by an Australian doctor, Dr. Colin Sullivan and his associates made the first cpap machine. Since then the cpap has improved over the years and has become one of the most effective methods of relief from sleep apnea.

Today, not only is the cpap and its various forms are used to cure sleep apnea, there are also surgeries and dental devices. The type of treatment depends greatly on the severity of your sleep apnea.

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