Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome is characterized by repeated episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep.
The obstruction can be due to excess tissue in the airway. As the person relaxes, the tissue around the airway collapses together blocking any air from entering the lungs.
No exchange of air takes place; the carbon dioxide level rises in the bloodstream as the oxygen level decreases. This arouses the person's "brain" and they respond by inhaling. The blood oxygen level then rises to near normal and the person falls asleep again. These short "arousals" lead to sleep deprivation. The majority of people will not recall awakening more than a few times. Sleep apnea is a progressive condition, worsening with age and weight gain.
- Non-refreshing sleep, very sleepy during the day
- Breathing stops frequently during sleep
- Usually moderate to loud snoring
Methods for Treating Sleep Apnea
- Mild Sleep Apnea
- Teaching the patient to avoid sleeping on their back
- Reaching your "ideal" weight for your height and maintaining that weight
- Avoid the use of alcohol and sleeping pills, either of which makes apnea worse
- Dental appliances that reposition the jaw and the tongue
- Laser surgery
- Moderate to Severe Sleep Apnea
- Nasal CPAP therapy is 100 percent effective in treating when tolerated. The air pressure acts as an air splint, keeping the tissues in the airway from collapsing together. Having a comfortable mask and the right pressure are essential.
- The success of surgery to increase the size of the airway varies from patient to patient. Generally, the worse the apnea, the less likely surgery will totally correct the problem. As with any surgery, there is risk involved and all procedures need to be explained in detail by your surgeon.