Sleep Apnea is a condition in which the affected individual stops breathing in their sleep, most commonly caused by a blockage of the upper airways. As breathing pauses, blood oxygen concentration dips to a level resulting in a sudden awakening. This can happen hundreds of times over the course of a night without the patient knowing, and can leave the affected person feeling excessively tired throughout the day. The condition is more common in males, and one’s chance of developing it increases as they age. Sleep apnea can lead to long term heart and lung failure and therefore requires treatment.
Sleep Apnea Solutions
Treatment begins with a sleep study performed to detect abnormal blood oxygen levels as well as breathing patterns. Should the study return results indicating the presence of sleep apnea, further treatment is required. Weight loss is paramount to the treatment of the condition. Devices such as a nasal CPAP are very successful, as they force air down the patient’s nose while they sleep, keeping him or her breathing. Surgeries such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) combat the causes of sleep apnea and aim to stop it altogether. The UPPP is the most widely accepted treatment for adults with obstructive sleep apnea, however, there are certain requirements to be met before the surgery can be approved.
Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep due to upper airway obstruction, which may arise as a result of extra tissue in the throat and mouth, nasal septal deviation, or obesity. While it is simply a cosmetic problem and poses no real health risk, many patients find their snoring to be a problem and prefer to have the issue fixed.
There are a number of surgical and non-surgical options to combat snoring. Non-surgical solutions include weight loss, changing sleep positions, and “Breathe Right” strips (available at most drug stores). Surgical options include UPPP and palatoplasty. When seeking treatment for snoring, it is recommended to undergo a sleep study in order to rule sleep apnea as the cause.