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How Do ENTs Treat Sleep Apnea?

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Many people associate sleep apnea with the symptom of loud and excessive snoring. While annoying, especially to any partners you might share your bed with, this is far from the most impactful effect than the condition can have on your life.

Sleep apnea is a very common condition, affecting an estimated 4-in-10 people at some point throughout their lives. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common variety experienced, is defined as the obstruction of the airway due to soft tissue, which results in an inability to breathe in enough oxygen when sleeping. 

As a result, sleep apnea can cause a wide range of issues when sleeping. It can wake you up in the middle of the night and cause disruption to your sleeping pattern, leading to general fatigue as well as trouble maintaining focus. Furthermore, it can cause headaches, especially in the morning, as is associated with heart disease and a greater risk of heart attack.

There are a variety of lifestyle changes, such as achieving a lower blood pressure and losing weight, that can help with sleep apnea, but your ENT doctor can help treat it as well. Here, we’re going to look at some of the most common treatments offered by ENT doctors when tackling sleep apnea.

CPAP Treatment

One of the most common methods for treating obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP machines are devices that can open your airway at night. These specialist devices usually look like nasal masks, and most ENT doctors can provide them.

CPAP machines help by slightly opening the nasal cavity, which can help you breathe more effectively at night. This prevents the apneas, preventing snoring and ensuring that you can sleep through the night with much less issue.

Treatments like CPAP machines are regularly recommended alongside healthy lifestyle changes such as monitoring your calorie intake and increasing the amount of exercise you get due to the very close links between sleep apnea and being overweight. However, CPAP can greatly diminish the impact of your symptoms, tackling the problem immediately while you work towards a more long-term solution at the same time.

Removing excess soft tissue

As mentioned, the obstruction in obstructive sleep apnea is usually soft tissue in most cases. If the CPAP machine isn’t proving effective in stopping your snoring and restoring your healthy sleeping patterns, then surgery may be recommended.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP for short, is surgery with the specific purpose or removing or remodeling tissue in the throat in an attempt to open the airway and ensure that you can breathe effective at night. 

The tissue that an ENT doctor might remove during a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty can include the tonsils and adenoids (which is a mass of soft tissue located behind the nasal cavity). Which tissue is to be removed or remodeled depends on the recommendations of your ENT doctor.

Other surgical treatments for sleep apnea

Besides removing soft tissue, there are a range of surgeries that your ENT may recommend. Which is most likely to help will depend largely on the source of the obstruction causing the symptoms.

For instance, a septoplasty is a surgery that can straighten the septum, which is the bone and cartilage between your nostrils, if it isn’t straight. The turbinate’s are sets of tissue inside the nose that may be enlarged, and can have their size reduced using radiofrequency energy.

The best way to find out which treatment is most likely to help you is to make an appointment with your ENT doctor as soon as you can.

Let your ENT doctor help with your sleep apnea

Hopefully, the above information will have addressed any questions you might have had about how ENTs treat sleep apnea and show that there is, in fact, plenty of home when it comes to helping you tackle sleep apnea, preventing its long-term risks, and restoring a peaceful night’s sleep.

Without treatment, sleep apnea can greatly increase the risk of heart disease, and can even lead to serious breathing problems at night which can be dangerous. As such, if you believe you have sleep apnea, you should get in touch with the team at Mountain Ear, Nose & Throat Associates as soon as possible.

Get in touch with our team by calling the office closest to you. We can answer any questions you might have and arrange an appointment for as soon as we can see you. You can reach our Sylva office at 828-586-7474, our Franklin office at 828-524-5599, our Murphy office at 828-835-1014 and our New Asheville office at 828-458-8100.