Sleep Apnea Care - Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring can be a symptom of many things, some benign and some life-threatening. Snoring is, for example, one common sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition that affects 18 million Americans, including many children. If left untreated, OSA poses serious threats to health. It can increase blood pressure, and risks for heart disease and stroke, as well as damage to the immune system.
Only about 10% of those with sleep apnea are ever diagnosed, because the most telling symptoms occur during sleep. Parents who often observe their sleeping children are more likely to notice problems.
With sleep apnea, the throat collapses and breathing stops or is reduced. Such episodes may last anywhere from a few seconds to almost a minute and only end when the sleeper awakens. These episodes can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, and people generally do not remember them.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Are Often Caused by Tonsil or Adenoid Problems
Tonsils and adenoids may be enlarged or infected. Adenoids are basically the tonsils you cannot see. They lie just above and behind the soft palate (the part of the palate at the back of the mouth from which hangs the uvula). These tissues function as part of the immune system’s barrier to infection at the point of easiest entry to the body – the mouth and nose. The adenoids become swollen for the same reasons as tonsils – viral and bacterial infections and allergic stimuli. If the adenoids are too large, they may obstruct normal breathing.
Even mild sleep apnea causes high blood pressure. The condition usually worsens as we age and can lead to a heart attack or stroke later in life. That’s why prompt treatment is so important. As ENT specialists, we are skilled in an array of treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea. We often recommend weight loss and CPAP machines. Surgical interventions include septoplasty, turbinate reduction, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).
We always look for nonsurgical interventions first. The most important part of your care is the thorough testing we do. We look in your nose and throat for areas of obstruction. We perform a thorough upper airway exam. And we make the diagnosis through a proper examination.