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Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring is caused by partial blockage of the air passages during sleep. Turbulent airflow causes vibrations of the palate and uvula leading to excessive noise. Snoring may be associated with sleep apnea. Apnea, or cessation of breathing, may occur if the breathing passages become completely occluded. Snoring alone, while not considered normal, is not life threatening. However, it may significantly affect the quality of life of other family members, particularly the snorer’s spouse. Most persons who snore, but don’t have apnea, have difficulty breathing through their noses or have excessively long palates or uvulas. Correction of these problems can often be done in the office with laser surgery or with a new technique involving injections of the palate, called the Pillar Procedure.

Sleep Apnea, unlike snoring alone, is a potentially life-threatening condition. Chronic obstruction of the air passages leads to extra stress on the heart and lungs and can cause permanent changes to their structure. Persons with sleep apnea are more likely to develop hypertension and fatal arrhythmias.

It is often difficult to distinguish between snoring alone and snoring with associated sleep apnea. Individuals with sleep apnea usually awaken after a full night’s sleep feeling unrested and tired. Morning headaches are common. Frequent napping during the day is common.

To diagnose sleep apnea, an individual must undergo a sleep study, which involves overnight monitoring. The test allows for quantification of the severity of the apnea and allows your physician to choose a treatment plan which is best for you.

The treatment of sleep apnea is varied. Sometimes weight loss alone is sufficient. Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is the main-stay of treatment for sleep apnea. This device is worn at night and delivers a continuous stream of air at a set pressure to the nose and mouth to keep the airway open. When worn, the machine is nearly 100% successful in the treatment of sleep apnea. Surgical treatments for sleep apnea also exist depending on the area felt to be responsible for the
obstruction. Surgical management may be as simple as an outpatient office procedure.

It is important to remember that no one treatment for sleep apnea works for everyone. We come in all shapes and sizes with varied anatomy and disease. It is imperative to seek treatment with a physician well versed in all treatments. Dr. Lee and
Dr. Jordan provide an honest evidence based approach to sleep apnea and snoring treatment.



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