Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep, leading to disrupted sleep and various health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Treatment options for sleep apnea depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Mild cases of sleep apnea Houston may be treated with lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and sleeping on the side.
Sleep apnea evaluation and diagnosis
The evaluation will typically involve a physical exam, medical history review, and possibly a sleep study to assess the patient’s sleep patterns and breathing during sleep. During the physical exam, the doctor will examine the patient’s nose, mouth, and throat for any physical abnormalities contributing to sleep apnea, such as enlarged tonsils or a deviated septum. The doctor may also check the patient’s neck for any signs of obesity or excess weight that could be putting pressure on the airway.
The medical history review will involve asking the patient about sleep habits, such as how long it takes to fall asleep, how often you wake up during the night, and whether you snore or gasp for air during sleep. The doctor will also ask about any other medical conditions the patient may have, and any medications or supplements you are taking that could affect your sleep.
Causes of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be caused by several factors, including:
- Obesity or excess weight: People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea due to the increased pressure on the airways.
- Age: Sleep apnea becomes more common as people age, as the muscles in the throat and tongue weaken over time.
- Gender: Though women’s risk rises after menopause, men are more likely than women to develop sleep apnea.
- Family history: Sleep apnea can be hereditary, so if someone in a person’s family has it, you may be more likely to develop it.
- Smoking: Smoking can increase inflammation in the airway and lead to the narrowing of the airway, making sleep apnea more likely.
Below are some of the treatment options you should know about:
- The most popular and successful treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The airway is kept open while sleeping by a CPAP machine, which emits a constant stream of air pressure through a mask placed over the nose or mouth.
- Bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) therapy is similar to CPAP therapy but delivers air at two different pressures, one for inhalation and another for exhalation. BiPAP therapy is generally used for people who have trouble exhaling against the pressure delivered by a CPAP machine.
- Oral appliances are custom-made devices that help keep the airway open during sleep. Oral appliances are designed to reposition the jaw or tongue to prevent airway collapse.
- Surgery: Surgery may sometimes be necessary to treat sleep apnea. Surgical options include uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), which involves removing the excess tissue from the throat, and maxillomandibular advancement (MMA), which involves moving the jaw forward to open up the airway.
It is advisable to consult with your sleep specialist at Houston Sinus Surgery to determine the best treatment options.