Writer: Sonika Tatipalli
Sleep apnea is a very widespread condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people of all ages around the world. This disease has multiple solutions currently, but, unfortunately, all have some sort of insufficiency. Many individuals with a case of sleep apnea use these various solutions as there is no other alternative. Furthermore, sleep apnea is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose. There is a strong lack of awareness among individuals. Therefore, many cases go undiagnosed, threatening more lives.
It is vital to tackle the problem of awareness. Since it is difficult for someone to understand they have this dangerous condition, awareness about it should be spread, and resources should be made readily available. This is an important problem to fix because over 80% of the moderate to severe cases are unexpected, causing it to go undiagnosed (Sleep Apnea Information for Clinicians – Sleep Apnea, n.d.). One way to do this is to have a survey or checklist. Before a normal appointment with a physician, patients are given many questions about normal health. These questions are used to detect if anything irregular is occurring with the patient. In this checklist, physicians should include a small portion specifically for sleep apnea. This section should include multiple questions about if the patient is experiencing any common symptoms of this disorder, and how severe these symptoms are. For example, the patient could be asked the following questions: do you commonly snore, are you unable to stay asleep, and/or have you experienced any episodes of not breathing or choking while sleeping recently.
When a patient answers yes for a certain number of these questions, further diagnosis should be conducted, so that they could truly confirm a possible case of sleep apnea. This could include current diagnosis methods such as a sleep study or a home sleep apnea testing kit (Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Diagnosis and Treatment - Mayo Clinic, 2019). Asking these simple questions could be life changing for patients as diagnosing the condition can substantially improve their sleep.
If the diagnosis confirms that the patient has this condition, they should be able to choose an effective solution that they prefer. My proposed solution for this, since many other solutions are insufficient, is a combination of two current solutions. As previously explained, a CPAP machine is one that sends pressurized air into the throat to keep the airway open. This machine is very effective, but is uncomfortable to wear throughout the night. The disadvantage for this is that although it is supposed to help people sleep better, it deters its own progress as it is difficult to sleep with the large mask. Another treatment is an oral appliance which slightly moves the jaw to prevent it from sinking and closing the airway. This treatment, on the other hand, is not as effective for everyone.
My proposed solution implements the best parts of both these techniques and combines them to make the most beneficial outcome for the patient. It makes sure the patient can still get the needed comfortable sleep, while being treated. My solution is a small machine, in the form of an oral appliance that sends pressurized air into the throat. This device will ensure both effective treatment and comfort for the patient. It is very simple and fits on the patient’s teeth. On the back of this device (the side of the tongue and throat), there would be a small metal machine to send the pressure. This would be connected with a thin tube to a simple motor to create pressure. Although similar to the CPAP machine, this would be simpler, as the patient is not required to wear a heavy duty mask. This could make sure the patient is able to fall asleep, and be protected by any possible case of sleep apnea.
After all of these are implemented, safety measures should still be taken to confirm that the patient stays completely safe. For those with severe cases of the condition, a watch should be given. This watch monitors the oxygen level of the patient continuously, and when it drops below a certain point, the watch should vibrate to wake the person up. An oxygen level should preferably be above 95 percent. If it is below 80-85 percent, then it is considered deadly, and can cause damage to the organs (Safe Oxygen Levels: What Should Your Oxygen Level Be?, n.d.). Thus, if the patient is still staying asleep, and the oxygen level drops to below 80, the watch should automatically call the ambulance.
Currently, sleep apnea is a prevalent condition affecting countless individuals throughout the world. My solution attempts to improve the situation of patients by providing a solution to the diagnosis and treatment, and including an extra safety measure.
This article is very informative and contains a lot of detail with clear explanations. However, one problem with it is that it is informal. Whereas a scientific article should be kept formal, this one is mildly informal. This informality is shown when the author uses words like “tackled” and “supposed”. Additionally, in the competition, it would be beneficial if the writer added a diagram to help the reader understand the structure of this proposed device. A highlight of this article is that it develops the entire process of how someone with this condition should proceed. Instead of only adding a solution idea as a treatment, there are ideas for both the diagnosis, treatment, and extra safety measures. In the competition, the article will be analyzed in four different categories: significance, innovation, feasibility, and approach. This solution would score well in feasibility and approach, but could improve in significance and innovation. This is because although helpful, the solution would not make that big of an impact on the population. It is less innovative because it is not a new idea, and more of an addition to existing ideas. However, the author is very descriptive about how the proposed device works and ensures that the reader can easily understand.
11 Symptoms of Sleep Apnea. (2019, December 13). Facty. https://facty.com/ailments/sleep/10-symptoms-of-sleep-apnea/4/
Sleep Apnea Information for Clinicians – Sleep Apnea. (n.d.). Sleepapnea.Org. https://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea-information-clinicians/#:%7E:text=A%20very%20short%20course%20on%20sleep%20apnea&text=Sleep%20disorders%2C%20including%20sleep%20apnea,severe%20obstructive%20sleep%20apnea%20undiagnosed.
Obstructive sleep apnea - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. (2019, June 5). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obstructive-sleep-apnea/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352095#:%7E:text=Tests%20to%20detect%20obstructive%20sleep,oxygen%20levels%20while%20you%20sleep.
Safe Oxygen Levels: What Should Your Oxygen Level Be? (n.d.). Inogen, Inc. https://provider.inogen.com/blog/safe-oxygen-levels/#:%7E:text=An%20oxygen%20level%20below%2088,what%20levels%20require%20immediate%20treatment.