Learning About ENT Specialists

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Non-Invasive Interventions And Surgical Treatments

Obstructive sleep apnea causes loud snoring, gasping and choking in your sleep, and periodic episodes of breathing cessation when you sleep. Apnea can raise the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and daytime sleepiness. It can be caused by obesity, excessive alcohol intake before bed, inflammation of the throat, adenoids, or tonsils, and certain medications. It may also be caused by acid reflux disease and chronic sinusitis. Your ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist will recommend a treatment plan for your obstructive sleep apnea depending on the cause and severity. Here are some treatment options for your apnea for you to consider.

Non-Invasive Interventions

Sleeping on your side instead of sleeping on your back can help prevent snoring and sleep apnea. When you sleep on your back, your tongue can slip into the back of your throat obstructing your breathing, which can cause your respirations to stop for a few seconds. Side sleeping will prevent this from happening so that you wake up feeling refreshed.

Avoiding alcoholic beverages and certain medications such as antihistamines can also help reduce apneic episodes when you sleep. Both alcohol and antihistamines can cause the muscles in the back of your tongue to relax and obstruct your airway.

Losing weight is another way to lower your risk for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Excessive abdominal and neck fat puts pressure on your diaphragm and pharynx respectively, which can disrupt an effective pattern of breathing while your sleep.

Snoring Surgery

If conservative treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are ineffective in reducing your symptoms, snoring surgery may be warranted. One of the most common surgical procedures to treat obstructive sleep apnea is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP surgery).

During this procedure, your doctor alters the tissue of your throat so that it is less likely to collapse and obstruct your breathing when you sleep. In addition to restoring an effective pattern of breathing so that your episodes of obstructive sleep apnea are minimized, UPPP surgery also helps prevent snoring. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty requires general anesthesia and you will need to stay in the hospital overnight. 

If you snore or have obstructive sleep apnea, make an appointment with an ENT specialist to evaluate your situation. After a thorough examination which may include undergoing a sleep study test, they will recommend the best treatment for you. After you have been successfully treated, you will sleep better and the risk of developing apnea-related health conditions may decline.  

For more information about snoring surgery, contact a local doctor.