Sleep Related Disorders and Treatments
Snoring, and the more serious sleep apnea, occurs when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose, where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing.
Snoring can be caused by the physical structure or deformities of your throat and sinuses, such as having a deviated septum, narrower passage of the upper throat or a long soft palette that flutters during relaxed breathing. Other causes include a stuffy or blocked nose from a cold or allergies, alcohol or drugs, being overweight, large tonsils and adenoids or even cysts or tumors.
Snoring disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives you of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems such as:
- Bed wetting in children
- Suppressed immune system
- Raised heart rate and blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Appetite problems
- Trouble with critical thinking
- Discolored and misaligned teeth in children
- ADD-like symptoms in children
When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of totally 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. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may experience 30 to 300 such events per night. These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing your heart to pump harder.
The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that you must sleep lightly and keep your muscles tense in order to keep airflow to your lungs. Because you don’t get a good rest, you may be sleepy during the day, which impairs your job performance and makes you a hazardous driver or equipment operator. After many years with this disorder, elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.
Schedule an appointment with and ENT specialist for a thorough examination of your nose, mouth, throat, palate and neck. You may also benefit from a sleep study in a laboratory environment to determine how serious your snoring or sleep apnea is and what effects it has on your health.
One treatment option, called the Pillar Procedure, may help you stop snoring by reinforcing your soft palate. Completed in a single, short office visit, this simple, minimally invasive procedure gives most patients a noticeable and lasting reduction in snoring. Three tiny woven inserts are placed in the soft palate to help reduce the vibration that causes snoring and the ability of the soft palate to obstruct the airway. Our physicians will conduct a physical exam to determine if your palate is the likely cause of your sleep apnea or snoring and if you are a good candidate for the Pillar Procedure.