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Sleep Apnea Treatment by ENT

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ENT Doctor Appointment

When you think of sleep apnea treatment, do you think of your ENT? You should! Sleep apnea is caused by a narrowing or collapse in the airway that lasts more than 10 seconds at a time. People with sleep apnea literally stop breathing when they sleep.

The constant pauses in breathing results in less oxygen making it into the blood. This means the heart must work harder to deliver much-needed oxygen to the cells. In addition, it interrupts the sleep cycle so a person with sleep apnea wakes up feeling tired instead of refreshed. Even though the apnea event may only last 10 seconds, it can be repeated anywhere from 30-300 times in one night. No wonder people with sleep apnea feel tired and are at higher risk for heart attack and accidents.

ENTs can treat sleep apnea many ways

Most ENTs start with restoring proper breathing during the day and night. Many times this ends the sleep apnea without the use of any special devices.

The ENT will exam you and may order imaging tests to get a good look at your airways. Your nasal passages (including the turbinates and septum) and sinuses will be examined to make sure they are not causing an obstruction.

If you still have tonsils or adenoids, they will be examined to make sure they are not obstructing your breathing.

The uvula and soft palate will be examined to determine if they are causing an obstruction.

If any of these structures are the source of the obstruction, the ENT will remove the obstruction and restore free breathing. Not only will this help during the night, you will breathe better during the day as well.

Sleep apnea surgical treatments by ENTs

If the septum (the bit of bone and cartilage between the nostrils) is not straight, a septoplasty can be performed to straighten the septum and correct your breathing.

If the turbinates (three sets of tissue within the nose) are enlarged, the ENT can reduce their size with a procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to burn bits of tissue away.

Polyps in the nose or sinuses can be removed with functional endoscopic sinus surgery.  These grape-like structures cause breathing problems day and night.

Somnoplasty also uses radiofrequency energy to reduce tissue in the uvula or soft palate.

Balloon sinuplasty is effective for mild sleep apnea if sinus obstruction is the root cause.

Tonsils and adenoids can be removed for better breathing.

Other sleep apnea treatments

ENTs can also prescribe the use of a CPAP device. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.  These devices are worn as a nasal or facial mask and keep the airways open while you breathe. Each time you inhale it creates a flow of air pressure that keeps the passages open. CPAP devices must be worn every night. They are not a cure for sleep apnea; they are a control. CPAP devices require proper fitting, including proper setting of the air pressure to work effectively.

Pillar implants can be used for mild sleep apnea. The Pillar Procedure brings stiffness to the soft palate and prevents it from vibrating and collapsing while you sleep. The ENT can insert the implants in the ENT office using a local anesthetic and you can be back at work or school the same day.

See the ENT for sleep apnea treatment

Before using a dental appliance for sleep apnea or undergoing a sleep study, consult with your ENT. The ENT may be able to determine the cause of the airway obstruction causing the apnea and help you breathe easier day and night.

You can’t sleep if you can’t breathe; so call the ENT today for better breathing.