The cessation of breathing usually occurs because of a blockage in the airway. The relaxed muscles at the back of the throat cause the throat to close. This stops breathing, typically from 20 seconds to up to 3 minutes. Most sleep apnea sufferers experience this cycle of snoring, apnea and awakening five or more times a night. This condition has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and heart disease, making it very important to understand if you have sleep apnea.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate, the tonsils and the tongue. When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and breathing momentarily stops. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief you don't remember it.
You can awaken with a transient shortness of breath that corrects itself quickly, within one or two deep breaths. You may make a snorting, choking, or gasping sound and this process can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night long. These disruptions impair your ability to reach the desired deep, restful phases of sleep, and you'll probably feel sleepy during your waking hours.
Some simple techniques for alleviating mild apnea are to sleep on your sides and not your back. Avoid alcohol or sedatives before bedtime. In mild cases, treatment may consist of nasal decongestants, inhaled steroid preparations or oral mouth devices that force the jaw forward to prevent the tongue from falling back and constricting the throat.
More aggressive treatment depends on the diagnosis. An examination will reveal if nasal allergy, infection, deformity, or tonsils and adenoids cause your snoring. Snoring or obstructive sleep apnea may respond to various treatments offered by your Manhattan ENT including:
* Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) - surgery for treating obstructive sleep apnea. It tightens flabby tissues in the throat and palate, expanding air passages.
* Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) - refers to procedures and techniques that treat snoring and some of them also are used to treat various severities of obstructive sleep apnea.
* Genioglossus and hyoid advancement - surgical procedure for the treatment of sleep apnea that prevents collapse of the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward.
If surgery is too risky or unwanted, the patient may sleep every night with a nasal mask that delivers air pressure to the throat. In severe cases, surgery may be called for to open the airway, including a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or deviated septum repair. A sleep study, which can now be done at home, in your own bed, can be done to determine if you have sleep apnea.
If you suffer from debilitating snoring or think you may have sleep apnea, contact your ENT in Manhattan and schedule an appointment with one of your otolaryngologists. Snoring and sleep apnea are not something to ignore. Early treatment is important in protecting your health in the long run.
Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com
Dr. Richard Nass, Manhattan ENT, is a solo practitioner with academic affiliation. He combines state of the art knowledge and technology with traditional, individualized attention for his patients, providing care for hearing loss, nasal problems, and allergies in Manhattan, among others.
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