What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is a health condition that occurs with a repetitive stopping or slowing of breathing that can occur hundreds of times during the night. Unfortunately, this can lead to poor sleep quality and sleepiness during the day. The risks for untreated sleep apnea include high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and even car accidents. More than 12 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea.
People with Sleep apnea frequently have loud snoring, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs more frequently in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. Many people don’t know they have sleep apnea and don’t realize they are having trouble breathing while they are sleeping. Frequently a family member or bed partner may be the first one to notice the signs of sleep apnea.
What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?
Nose obstruction due to deviated septum or nasal polyps.
- Throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal
- Large tonsils and adenoids
- Extra soft tissue in throat makes it harder to keep throat open
- Soft floppy palate with long or thick uvula
- Large tongue base that falls back and blocks breathing
When your nose and throat are partially blocked during sleep, not enough air gets into the lungs. Breathing may become heavy and noisy and may stop for short periods of time.
Because these episodes or breathing pauses happen many times during the night, there may be brief drops in the amount of oxygen levels in the blood. This can cause moving in and out of deep and light sleep which results in poor sleep quality.
What are the Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- Excessively loud Snoring
- Gasping for air or choking during sleep
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
The Doctors at Colorado ENT are experts in diagnosing and treating snoring and sleep apnea. A variety of options are available for the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea that are both surgical and non-surgical.
Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machines are the most common treatment. This includes wearing a mask over the nose during sleep. The mask blows air into your throat. The increased airway pressure keeps the throat open. Weight loss is also a non-surgical option.
When patients have difficulty with other treatments, surgical procedures might be an alternative solution.
- Balloon Sinuplasty. This procedure is recommended for mild obstructions. It can be performed under local anesthesia and recovery time is minimal. If an obstruction is caused by narrowing of the nasal or sinus passages a balloon sinus surgery may be the only sleep apnea surgery you need. A small balloon type of device is inserted into the nasal passage with an endoscope. It is inflated to open the passage and clear the obstruction.
- Septoplasty. Your nose is divided into two nostrils by the septum. The septum should be straight. However, because of injury, congenital defect or aging the septum can become crooked or “deviated.” This can restrict airflow making it difficult to breathe. Septoplasty can correct the septum and put it in the proper position, allowing you to breathe properly through your nose.
- Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery. This form of surgery is also referred to as FESS. It is minimally invasive, has a shorter recovery time than conventional sinus surgery and is highly effective in removing and correcting blockages in the sinuses. Nasal and sinus polyps can be removed with this procedure. Once nasal breathing is restored, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices will be more easily tolerated.
- Rhinoplasty – is a nose job or nose reshaping to correct impaired breathing caused by structural defects in the nose.
- Turbinectomy – Turbinates are structures made of bone and soft tissue located on the inside of the nose. Their job is to warm and humidify the air you breathe. But sometimes the space between the septum and the turbinates is so small that it’s hard for air to get through. It makes it difficult to breathe through the nose. Turbinectomy is where some or all the turbinate bones attached to mucous membranes in the nasal passages are removed.
Request an appointment for a complete evaluation and learn what treatment may be best for you.