Did you know that ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors are uniquely trained and qualified to treat sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a condition that affects proper breathing while you sleep. It is most often caused by obstructions in the nose and throat. Since ENTs specialize in the nose and throat (as well as ears!) it only makes sense to see an ENT for sleep apnea.

Many times ENTs are able to bring permanent relief for sleep apnea through highly targeted surgical procedures.

Sleep apnea surgery for nasal obstructions

Many people don’t breathe normally through their nasal passages. Most don’t even realize it! ENTs begin sleep apnea treatment by determining if you can breathe properly. That starts with your nose. After discussing your medical history, the ENT will perform a physical examination of your nose and nasal passages. The ENT may use an endoscope to see the interior of your nose and sinuses. In addition, imaging tests may be necessary.

If the ENT diagnoses a nasal obstruction; surgery can frequently bring permanent relief. The most common sleep apnea surgeries are:

  • Balloon Sinuplasty: This minimally invasive procedure is perfect for mild nasal or sinus obstructions. It can be performed in the ENT’s office under local anesthesia. Recovery time is swift. If your sleep apnea is caused by narrow nasal or sinus passages, a balloon sinus surgery may be the only sleep apnea treatment you need. During this procedure a small balloon-like device is inserted into the nasal passage using an endoscope. The balloon is inflated, the passages are opened and they retain their new shape eliminating the obstruction.
  • Turbinoplasty: Turbinates are made of bone and soft tissue located on the inside of the nose. Turbinates condition the air you breathe by warming and humidifying it. If the space between the septum and the turbinates is too small, it’s hard for air to get through. Turbinates can have an overgrowth of bone or tissue making it hard to breathe through the nose. Turbinoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the turbinate and increases the passage to restore proper nasal breathing.
  • Septoplasty: Your nose is divided into two nostrils by a straight septum. If injury, aging or birth defect causes the septum to be crooked, the less than straight septum is known as a deviated septum. A deviated septum can restrict your airflow and make it hard to breathe. If you are in a reclined position or if you sleep on your side, breathing with a deviated septum is difficult. Septoplasty corrects the septum by restoring it to the proper position. Once the septum is corrected you can breathe correctly through your nose again.
  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery: This surgery is also called FESS. It is less invasive than conventional sinus surgery and has a shorter recovery time. It is very effective for removing and correcting sinus blockages. Nasal and sinus polyps are removed with this procedure.

The goal sleep apnea surgery is to remove restore proper nasal breathing. For many people, this may be the only sleep apnea treatment you need.

If CPAP or other devices are still necessary, this will function much better when you breathe properly.

See the ENT for sleep apnea

If you are having problems with sleeping or snoring or if you think you may have sleep apnea contact your ENT for an evaluation.

Before any sleep studies are undertaken make sure you are breathing properly. The ENT is your source for better breathing whether you are awake or asleep.