What are the different types of sleep apnea?
There are two main types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is where something in your airway, starting from the palate, the tongue, all the way to the voice box, blocks your airway and causes obstructive events. This restricts your airflow and therefore your oxygen while you are sleeping at night. The other type is central apnea, where your brain is not sending a stimulus to your lungs to take a breath. As Otolaryngologists (also known as ear, nose, and throat doctors, or ENTs), we see and treat patients mainly with obstructive sleep apnea.
What causes obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea can be caused by an obstruction with your tongue, the soft tissue at the back of your throat, the palate, the epiglottis or even your tonsils – any of these can block your airway. Excessive relaxation while asleep can lead to obstruction. This can occur was we age and can sometimes present as snoring. The brain senses a lack of oxygen and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath, then the body falls back asleep. This cycle repeats throughout the night and causes poor, disruptive sleep. When left untreated, OSA can cause vehicle and workplace accidents, worsening mood and memory, stroke, heart attack, and even death.
Who is most at risk for sleep apnea?
Studies show that in America up to nearly 10 percent of women and 25 percent of men can be affected by some form of obstructive sleep apnea as is currently defined. Other risk factors include being overweight, diabetic, certain cardiac conditions, as well as age.
What are some of the warning signs of sleep apnea?
There are a variety of signs to watch out for, including being excessively tired throughout the day, falling asleep unintentionally, morning headaches, bruxism (clenching your jaw or teeth) and reflux. Others can include a history of hypertension and atrial fibrillation. If you have these symptoms, and if you snore, you should see your health care provider, who may refer you to get a sleep study done.
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sleep apnea is diagnosed by a polysomnogram, or what is more commonly known as a sleep study. This monitors your brain activity, your heart rate, oxygen level, respirations in and out of your nose, and the pressure in which the air is moving inside and outside of your nose, as well as your chest cavity moving up and down, all while you are sleeping. This can be done at home with testing through Colorado ENT & Allergy or occasionally needs to be done in a sleep laboratory.
How can sleep apnea be treated?
The use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine remains the gold standard in treating sleep apnea; however, there are many patients who cannot tolerate using a CPAP for a variety of reasons. Alternatively, a mandibular oral appliance, which moves your jaw forward, is another non-surgical option. There are also surgical options that can involve soft tissue surgery depending on your anatomy or possibly implanting a device called Inspire. Inspire is a newer technology that is a hypoglossal nerve stimulator – essentially, it’s a pacemaker for your tongue. While you’re asleep, the Inspire device sends small pulses to your tongue to open up the airway and preventing obstructive events from happening.
Why choose Colorado ENT & Allergy?
We have a focus on treating obstructive sleep apnea for all patients that can’t tolerate CPAP. We can do this conservatively with non- surgical options such as Excite OSA or via soft tissue surgery, hyoid suspension, or through hypoglossal nerve stimulator therapy (Inspire). The most important focus is that you understand the severity of the disease and your options for treatment.
Plus as the only recognized Inspire provider of excellence in the Southern Colorado region our team is committed to making sure every implant patient is treated with the best care, and with the best team, in the region.
Inspire Sleep Apnea Innovation:
If you struggle with CPAP, Inspire® may work for you. Learn how tens of thousands of sleep apnea patients have gone from counting sheep to better sleep.
How to prepare for doctor’s appointment?
Contact Colorado ENT & Allergy today to schedule an ENT appointment at one of our Colorado Springs or Pueblo West locations. And be sure to bring any previous sleep studies that you have had performed to your visit.