Does your spouse or partner hit you with a pillow during the night for snoring too loud? Do you ever find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, breathing heavily for seemingly no reason? When you get up in the morning are you refreshed, or do you feel as if you are never getting enough sleep?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then it may be time to visit Northeast Atlanta Ear Nose & Throat in Johns Creek or Lawrenceville, GA. in order to be evaluated for a potentially serious health condition: obstructive sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is characterized clinically as a condition where a person experiences recurring episodes of breathing pauses that last a minimum of 10 seconds, which is due to a narrowing of the upper airways, or in some cases a collapse of the airway.
Why is it so dangerous?
There are a variety of reasons why sleep apnea is a dangerous condition. Here are a few of them:
It causes the heart to work harder, putting undue stress on a vital organ.
Due to restless sleep, a person can become hazardous when operating a vehicle or heavy machinery.
Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even diabetes.
Chronic headaches. Sleep apnea sufferers often experience recurring, chronic headaches and neck pain.
Obstructive sleep apnea can increase the occurrence and frequency of asthmatic episodes, and even interfere with certain asthma treatments and medications.
Pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the arteries within the lungs.
Psychological problems. Studies have shown that individuals suffering from sleep apnea are also at an increased risk to experience depression, which seems to worsen as sleep apnea becomes more severe.
Are there any non-surgical treatments for sleep apnea?
There are a variety of non-surgical treatments available for patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. First and foremost, weight loss can help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms, as sleep apnea is often seen in obese or overweight individuals.
Secondly (and most commonly), a CPAP machine can be used in order to alleviate symptoms, and provide treatment for patients. a CPAP machine uses positive airway pressure, which blows compressed air into the lungs and keeps the airway from closing. We oftentimes recommend a CPAP machine to our Lawrenceville and Johns Creek patients who are looking for non-surgical treatment options.
Another non-surgical treatment involves using a dental appliance that moves the lower jaw and tongue forward in order to keep the airway open and unblocked. However, this treatment is generally only worthwhile to patients experiencing mild sleep apnea. If you suffer moderate to severe sleep apnea, surgery may be your best option.
Is surgery the best alternative for patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea?
Each case is different, which is why it is important to schedule your appointment at one of our two office locations (Johns Creek & Lawrenceville, GA.).
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This is a surgery often used to treat patients suffering with sleep apnea. This surgery works by eliminating excess soft palate tissue, thus opening the airway for easier breathing. In addition, the air passage may be further enlarged using a procedure known as a tonsillectomy (more commonly referred to as “getting your tonsils taken out”).
Genioglossus and hyoid advancement. This is another surgical alternative for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. This process works by preventing the collapse of the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward, the result is an unobstructed airway, and easier breathing.
We also offer other surgical alternatives, which we can share with you during your appointment if you are a candidate for those particular procedures.
What’s my next step?
If you are tired of the restless nights of sleep, the loud snoring that doesn’t allow you or your significant other to get a peaceful night’s sleep, and want to take the logical next step and get relief permanently from this dangerous health condition, then please contact our Lawrenceville ENT office, or our Johns Creek ENT clinic today and schedule your appointment. By contacting us you can get on the road to better health, better rest, and a happier life!