For those suffering from sleep apnea, getting a restful night’s sleep can sometimes seem nearly impossible. Not only for those with OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) but for their partners as well. It’s a frustrating disorder, but our ENT specialists in Southfield are here to help. In this blog post, we’ll be providing you with some information about OSA, common causes, as well as forms of treatment and lifestyle changes you can make that will help you relieve some of the conditions and get the z’s that you need.
What is Sleep Apnea?
The most simple definition of sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes repeated starts and stops of breathing. This happens when the tissue in the back of the throat blocks the airway. While minor sleep apnea can often be remedied simply by changing sleep positions, more severe disorders can actually be quite dangerous for those suffering, as well as cause loud snoring throughout the night. The following are the most common causes of OSA:
- In Children – While sleep apnea is more common among adults, children are still at risk of having the disorder. Most often, this is caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils, or dental conditions that can block the airway.
- Excessive Weight – The main cause of sleep apnea amongst adults is excessive weight or obesity. This extra weight creates soft tissue in the throat and mouth. While asleep, the muscles and your throat and tongue are relaxed which leads to a blocked airway.
- Smoking / Alcohol Use – Smoking and drinking aren’t known to directly cause sleep apnea, but do, however, make it worse. While smoking directly irritates the upper airway, throat, tongue, and more. By continuing to smoke, these areas are likely to swell. Alcohol is known to relax the muscles in the throat and tongue which can also cause or worsen sleep apnea.
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. As stated above, sometimes it’s as easy as altering your sleep position. But for those that have it worse, more drastic treatments are required. The most common technique to treat adults is through a CPAP mask. CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure” and helps to ensure that there is no buildup that will affect your breathing throughout the night, helping you and your partner sleep with no loud snoring or scares.
Yet, sometimes the CPAP doesn’t work for certain individuals, and these cases may require a surgical treatment, such as a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, from your ENT specialist.
You’re Not Alone
While sleep apnea can be irritating, and sometimes downright scary, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. It’s estimated that approximately 22 million Americans are suffering from the sleep disorder, and the majority of these people are undiagnosed!
So if you believe you might be suffering from OSA, don’t hesitate to call your local ENT specialists at Downriver ENT, P.C. in Southfield. We’ll be able to diagnose and suggest an appropriate treatment so that you can finally get the rest that you deserve.