What is Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
Snoring is a problem for many people; however, it could be a sign of something more. Snoring is an indication that air is not flowing freely through the throat, and the sound comes from the exertion of trying to force the air through the narrow passageway.
Loud, habitual snoring may be the first sign of a potentially life threatening disorder – Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Apnea is the pausing of airflow for more than 10 seconds while someone is sleeping. Loud snoring mixed with pauses during which the sleeper struggles to breathe is a sign of OSA.
Those who suffer from sleep apnea may not get a good night’s rest and may not get enough oxygen while they are sleeping. This can lead to daytime drowsiness, headaches, irritability, mood swings, chronic fatigue, decreased sex drive or impaired memory or judgment. Recent studies also show that sleep apnea may cause cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons at Houston Methodist Hospital will initially consult with the patient, along with his/her significant other to talk about the patient’s sleeping habits and behaviors. A head and neck exam will be performed to see if there are any problems that may be affecting the patient’s breathing.
For those who do have sleep apnea and snoring, the surgeon may recommend that the patient avoid alcohol and heavy meals at least two hours before bedtime, lose weight, avoid using a sedative or sleep on his/her side.
If a patient has severe sleep apnea, the surgeon may prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is a light mask worn over the nose during sleep, allowing air through the nose in order for the airway to remain open.
Other options include wearing oral appliances that help bring the tongue, jaw and soft palate forward, as well as surgical treatment options.
Surgery may be a permanent way to help control sleep apnea and snoring. There are two surgical options – laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) and uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Both procedures resect the uvula and portions of the soft palate to expand the airway. The LAUP is a procedure that can be done in the surgeon’s office under local anesthesia, while the UPPP is a major procedure that must be done in the hospital.
For more information about sleep apnea or snoring or for a referral, please call 713-790-3333.