Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which your breathing stops or gets very shallow while you are sleeping. This can be very serious because while sleeping each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more and can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour.

When you are awake, and normally during sleep, your throat muscles keep your throat open and air flows into your lungs. In obstructive sleep apnea, however, the throat briefly collapses, causing pauses in your breathing.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. While sleeping you may try to breathe, however, enough air cannot flow into your lungs through your mouth and nose. Therefore, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop. Normal breaths then start again with a loud snort or choking sound.

Sleep apnea can be associated with:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Tiredness, Sleepiness and irritation during the day
  • Brief drop in blood oxygen levels
  • Loud snoring (Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea)
  • Being overweight increases incidence of sleep apnea (Extra soft tissue in your throat makes it harder to keep throat area open)
  • Large tonsils and adenoids
  • Throat Muscles and tongue that relaxes more than normal
  • Skeletally having a smaller airway size in the mouth and throat area.

Most people don’t know they have sleep apnea. Usually a family member and/or bed partner may notice the signs of sleep apnea first.

Untreated sleep apnea can increase:

  • Risk of having high blood pressure
  • Risk of having a heart attack or stroke
  • Risk of Pulmonary hypertension
  • Risk of developing diabetes
  • Risk for work-related accidents
  • Risk for driving accidents

How is sleep apnea treated?

Treatment is aimed at restoring regular nighttime breathing and relieving symptoms such as very loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Treatment will also help associated medical problems, such as high blood pressure, and reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.

For mild sleep apnea changes in daily activities or habits may be all that are needed:

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and medicines that make you sleepy. They make it harder for your throat to stay open while you sleep.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Even a little weight loss can improve your symptoms.
  • Sleep on your side instead of your back. Sleeping on your side may help keep your throat open.

For moderate or severe sleep apnea you may benefit from the above changes but may also need:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): This is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. For this treatment, you wear a mask over your nose during sleep. The mask blows air into your throat at a pressure level that is right for you. The increased airway pressure keeps the throat open while you sleep. The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to stop the airways from briefly getting too small during sleep.
  • Sleep Study may necessary to diagnosis the seriousness of snoring and sleep apnea and its effects on your health
  •  Surgical intervention: Numerous surgical options are available, however Dr. Casey feels that for the right patient a Bimaxillary Advancement surgery has the best results. In this surgery, both upper and lower jaw are brought forward, bringing soft palate and tongue forward to increase airway space and improve night time breathing, reduces daytime sleepiness, and reduced the risk of numerous cardiovascular associated health problems. This Surgery can also eliminate the need for CPAP wear.

What Causes Snoring?

Similar to obstructive sleep apnea, the noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. Snoring is more frequent in males and overweight persons, and it usually grows worse with age.

People who snore may suffer from clinical finding very similar to those patients with sleep apnea. Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and twenty-five percent are habitual snorers, however, snoring doesn’t mean that you have sleep apnea.

Is snoring serious?

Not necessarily. However, if you are a severe snorer, it is suggested to seek medical attention to schedule an evaluation for your snoring.

Dr. Casey can perform a clinical examination and help you determine the best way to resolve your sleep apnea or snoring.

Please call us if you have any questions at: 239-947-6637.