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The Serious Problem You May Be Sleeping Through

Sleep apnea is a common and, too often, under-diagnosed sleep disorder. It occurs when your breathing ceases numerous times while you are asleep (that’s what apnea means–the halt of breathing.) In fact, sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing 30 times an hour or more.

Because you may not wake up to realize your breathing has stopped, you don’t know you’re experiencing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can worsen over time and become life threatening when not expertly treated.

Don't Dismiss it As a Minor Complaint or Concern

In many cases, the first person to notice your sleep apnea symptoms is a member of your household. If someone in your family tells you that you snore loudly, stop breathing for periods of time and gasp or snort during sleep, don’t dismiss it as a minor complaint or concern.

It Can Seriously Affect Your Health

In a way, your body goes on “auto-pilot” while you sleep. Your brain regulates automatic functions for you, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Although sleep is a complex process that is not fully understood, we all know a good night’s sleep is important for optimal health and functioning.

If you think you or a loved one may have this disorder, Capital Otolaryngology’s sleep apnea experts strongly encourage you to make an appointment with us. Although sleep apnea is a common disorder, it can seriously affect your health.

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Who is Most Likely to Get Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea affects over 12 million Americans and occurs more commonly in men. It most frequently occurs in people over the age of 40, although people of all ages, including children, may experience it. The primary risk factors for sleep apnea include:

Blocked nasal passages, large tongue, narrow throat
Overweight
Large neck size (17”+ men, 16”+ women)
Alcohol consumption
High blood pressure
Family history
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What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

One of the major indications you’re experiencing sleep apnea is poor, restless sleep which, naturally, leads to feeling tired. But there are a host of other symptoms which include:

Loud snoring
Excessive drowsiness
Insomnia
Problems with memory and cognition
Weight gain
Depression
Sexual dysfunction
Morning headaches
Dry mouth

Sleep Apnea Side Effects

If not addressed promptly, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure. Some research indicates that up to 50% of people with sleep apnea have high blood pressure. Its harmful, often life-threatening, side effects can also include:

Hypertension
Stroke
Diabetes
Heart Disease
Heart Failure
Depression

Research indicates that even your risk of being involved in car accidents increases with sleep apnea because you’re not as alert.

What Are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can be caused by two different circumstances:

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes during sleep.

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Central Sleep Apnea

Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center. This type is less common.

How Can Sleep Apnea be Treated?

There are a variety of sleep apnea treatments but the best one for you depends on the cause and extent of your condition. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, use of an air device (called CPAP), dental appliance, and surgery. Some people may use more than one type of treatment.

Lifestyle Changes

Avoiding alcohol, tobacco and sedatives. Losing weight can also help with mild cases of sleep apnea.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

The most common treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP entails wearing a device over the nose during sleep. The nasal device is connected to a small machine that creates airflow and gentle air pressure to keep the airway open.

Dental Appliances

Used to position the lower jaw and tongue during sleep. Such devices may be appropriate for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Surgery

May be used to improve the airway. Surgeries will focus on decreasing excess throat tissues that block the airway and improving any nasal obstruction that causes mouth breathing.

What Are The Different Types of Sleep apnea surgery?

This procedure works by eliminating the excess tissue of the soft palate and the uvula as well as creating scar tissue that helps reduce snoring. Sleep apnea patients and snorers benefit from UPPP with one of our experienced board-certified sleep doctors.

Using radiofrequency energy, the base of the tongue can be tightened and shrunk in a simple 5-minute clinic procedure, decreasing sleep apnea at the tongue level.

Used for patients with severe sleep apnea, this procedure surgically modifies the upper airway to promote airflow. Our surgeons can perform a GAHM under general anesthesia. It is a safe, permanent treatment for sleep apnea when CPAP and other treatments are not enough.

Patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea that have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or less may be eligible for Inspire implant therapy. Inspire is a system similar to a pacemaker that helps keep your airway open by stimulating your tongue to move when it blocks the back of your throat. Implant therapy can eliminate your need for CPAP, and the system only operates while you are asleep without causing any discomfort during your wake or sleep cycles.

Patients will larger-than-usual tonsils or tonsils that remain swollen from chronic issues may benefit from a tonsillectomy. A tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the two small, oval-shaped glands located in the back of your throat. It is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S.

 
Capital Otolaryngology ENT Throat Specialists in Austin
LEARN MORE ABOUT THROAT & VOICE CARE

A tonsillectomy can now be performed as an outpatient procedure with modern techniques to reduce the pain and speed up recovery.

Injection snoreplasty is a minimally invasive treatment for snoring with little to no pain involved.

We can provide a thorough evaluation of your entire throat with a painless fiber optic telescope and can treat both medical and surgical throat disorders.

Our voice is the instrument we use to communicate to our friends, family, and co-workers. If that instrument isn’t working, it affects everything we do.

Personal Care with Maximum Comfort

We are here to serve you and want you to know that our standard of patient care is the same standard we would apply to our own families. Our specialists are committed to providing you with timely and complete personalized care integrated with maximum comfort, convenience, and privacy.

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