What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a very serious disorder in which a person stops breathing or experiences shallow breathing during sleep. Symptoms include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, waking up with a sore throat or waking up gasping for air. In severe cases, it can lead to heart attack or stroke. According to the National Institutes for Health, as many as 12 million people suffer from sleep apnea.
If you snore, you are very familiar with the impact lack of sleep has on your quality of life. Snoring not only disrupts sleep, it may also be a sign of a serious condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Your snoring may also be affecting your loved ones.
To find out if you should be concerned about your snoring, take our snore test online!
Common sleep disorders include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, staying awake, excessive sleepiness, sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, difficulty breathing during sleep, narcolepsy and restless legs during sleep.
If you’re concerned that you may suffer from a sleep disorder, take our sleep test online!
What Are the Possible Causes of Sleep Apnea?
It is usually caused by either a blockage of the person’s airway from loose or extra tissues in the nose and throat collapsing during sleep or by the brain failing to tell the muscles to breathe.
How is it Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Usually the patient will undergo a sleep study, or polysomnograph (PSG), during which he or she is observed overnight in a sleep lab. The test measures heart rate, respiratory function, blood oxygen levels and the brain’s electrical activity in order to make a diagnosis.
Atlanta ENT: Treatment Options
- Nasal CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)—a mask-like device worn over the mouth and nose during sleep that keeps the airway open with air pressure during sleep.
- Oral Appliance—these push the lower jaw forward, keeping the airway open. More information on Oral Appliances.
- Medication—Some prescription drugs may provide relief.
- Surgery—Removing excess tissue from the nose and throat may help widen the airway. Surgeries may include correcting the septum (wall between the nostrils), removing nasal polyps, which may also be blocking the airway, minimally-invasive throat procedures to reduce tissue in the airway, and the Pillar Procedure to stiffen the soft palate reducing or eliminating it’s collapse during sleep.
The tissue in the back of the throat most often involved in snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is the soft palate. In addition to the soft palate, many people also suffer from obstruction of other parts of the upper airway including the nasal airway, tonsils, tongue, and pharyngeal walls. During your office visit, your doctor will examine all parts of your upper airway and assess which areas may be contributing to your sleep apnea. A treatment plan addressing your specific anatomy may include CPAP, oral appliances, medications, or minimally invasive surgical treatments. A thorough examination by Atlanta ENT’s board certified Physicians can determine the best treatment for you.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a complex condition. Atlanta ENT’s physicians will continue to work with you to provide the relief you deserve.