Can Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation Cure My Sleep Apnea?

Is hypoglossal nerve stimulation a treatment option for your sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a common medical problem and while snoring, or the sound created by air passing through a constricted upper airway, is one of the cornerstone symptoms, it’s not the only one. Look for some of the other common symptoms like dry mouth and headaches in the morning. You may find that you’re more restless at night and sometimes urinating more frequently. Many of those who suffer from sleep apnea report feeling drained during the day even though they slept all night long!

Receiving a diagnosis for sleep apnea can be nerve wracking. You may wonder if you’ll need to wear a machine at night or if you can try something less burdening. Many of those newly diagnosed with this disorder look to alternative therapies, such as hypoglossal nerve stimulation, to treat the condition.

What is Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation?

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation is a surgical procedure for obstructive sleep apnea. It involves placing a device within the body which encourages this nerve to activate during the night, pushing your tongue forward and allowing air to flow uninhibited through the throat.

In the United States, there is only one FDA approved method of this treatment. The Upper Airway Stimulation system by Inspire Medical Systems. This arrangement includes a few parts including a pulse generator, a sensing lead, and a remote to activate the device. Again, upper airway stimulation works to signal the hypoglossal nerve to activate and move the tongue forward when you inhale.

Will it cure your sleep apnea? Hypoglossal nerve stimulation works for most to reduce greatly the number of micro-arousals or moments without breath during the night. Your doctor will be able to tell you just how well it will work for your specific health situation.

Who is Eligible for Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation?

Generally, this procedure is reserved for those who are unable to tolerate continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP therapy. Research has found that this procedure works best on individuals with a BMI no greater than 32. Before this surgery is performed, patients will likely undergo a drug-induced sleep endoscopy to ensure that hypoglossal nerve stimulation will really do the trick.

Try a CPAP Machine First.

Generally, your physician will encourage you to try a CPAP machine before any surgical procedures. While CPAP therapy was once more difficult to navigate, today you’ve got plenty of options. There are hundreds of popular machines available online with reputable dealers like Companies like Resmed and Philips Respironics are creating new technology every year and making CPAP machines smaller, quieter, and more effective all the time.

If using a CPAP mask is intimidating you, check out this great article on choosing your perfect mask, or get help from’s wonderful health care team. Obstructive sleep apnea therapy is varied and effective; we’ll help you find the best treatment option for you.