Being able to breathe and sleep well through the night has an impact on the way we experience life and perform our work. Summa Health’s ENT specialists treat sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), a general term for breathing difficulties during sleep. SDB can range from frequent loud snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition where part, or all, of the airway is blocked repeatedly during sleep.
Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and overweight persons, and it usually grows worse with age. In addition to being bothersome to others, snoring disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Serious episodes last more than 10 seconds each and occur more than seven times per hour. These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder.
To determine if the snoring is caused by nasal allergy, infection, deformity, or tonsils and adenoids, Summa Health ENT specialists provide a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, throat, palate, and neck. In collaboration with the Summa Health Sleep Medicine team, we also may recommend a sleep study to determine how serious the snoring is and what effects it has on your health.
Snoring or obstructive sleep apnea may respond to lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, sleeping on one's side, and decreasing alcohol consumption, as well as continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP). For those who have issues tolerating CPAP, Summa Health ENT specialists may consider alternate treatments, such as:
- Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation Therapy
Commonly referred to as Inspire, the hypoglossal nerve stimulator is an implanted medical device that reduces the occurrence of OSA by electrically stimulating the hypoglossal nerve, which causes tongue movement. This stimulation is timed with breathing to relieve upper airway obstruction. It is the only FDA-approved sleep apnea therapy that works inside your body.
Surgery is usually considered only if other therapies haven't been effective. Procedures that may help reduce snoring and sleep apnea by clearing or enlarging air passages include nasal surgery to remove polyps or straighten a deviated septum, or surgery to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Other surgical options include a palate surgery to relieve an obstruction; corrective jaw placement (or orthognathic) surgery to move bones of the upper and/or lower jaw; or Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (“UPPP”), a surgical procedure designed to increase the airway size and decrease tissue collapse by removing extra tissue in the throat.
If you are concerned about sleep apnea, take our quiz to see if you are at risk for OSA. To learn more about other types of sleep disorders, check out these common sleep problems.