What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where airflow through the upper airway stops periodically while sleeping. When this happens more than 5 times per hour it is classified as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, causing serious medical problems and daytime fatigue.
What causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by many factors and a thorough evaluation by a Ear, Nose, and Throat and Sleep Medicine Specialist is critical to identify the causes specific to each patient. Typical causes include nasal and sinus conditions such as septal deviation and chronic sinusitis, long uvula and soft palate, enlarged tonsils, large tongue base, small jaw, thick neck, and obesity. Many of these issues are correctable with modern, minimally invasive office based procedures.
Health conditions Caused by Sleep Apnea
The following have all been associated with snoring and sleep apnea:
- heart attack
- congestive heart failure
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you or your bed partner suspect you have sleep apnea because of snoring, witnessed gasps or pauses, and daytime sleepiness chances are you do have apnea. Testing is now very easy as we can perform Home Sleep Testing in one night to diagnose this condition.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are nonsurgical treatments such as CPAP (pressure mask) and oral appliances. There are also surgical options including simple office based procedures to open the nasal and sinus airway such as balloon sinuplasty endoscopic septoplasty, and turbinate reduction. In addition the long floppy uvula and soft palate can be elevated and stiffened with a simple office procedure the Dr. Slaughter has pioneered. The treatment plan is based on the patient’s anatomical issues and desires. This will be discussed during your consultation with Dr. Slaughter.
CPAP and BiPAP
CPAP and BiPAP are good non-surgical options for patients with snoring and apnea in the right candidate. This equipment can be now be set to auto-titrate which means that the appropriate pressure setting to relieve your snoring and apnea can be determined in the comfort of your own bed. The efficacy of the therapy can also be closely followed by Dr. Slaughter using downloads of your sleep data. Unfortunately there are many patients who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy. We do not offer a one size fits all approach and will not force you into CPAP. There are many other options.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral Appliance Therapy (OA) can be quite effective for both snoring and apnea. The basic principle is that relaxation of the jaw in sleep allows the tongue to fall back and crowd the airway.
Minimally Invasive treatments for Sleep apnea
- Sinus and Nasal Procedures
- Balloon Sinuplasty
- Soft Palate Tightening
Sinus and Nasal treatments for sleep apnea
Dr. Slaughter offers many of the most advanced sinus and nasal procedures available as part of our Sinus and Nasal Center. These procedures can dramatically reduce snoring and apnea. Nasal congestion causes an increase in the velocity and turbulence of the airflow when sleeping. Opening the sinus and nasal passages reduces this turbulence and enhances free flow without snoring and apnea.
Balloon Sinuplasty offers gentle non-surgical opening of the sinus outflow tracts. This resolves chronic sinus congestion and recurring sinus infections with a great improvement in nasal breathing and snoring and sleep apnea reduction.
Endoscopic septoplasty allows Dr. Slaughter to correct the patient’s deviated septum with the most modern technique without the need for any packing or splinting. This will greatly reduce snoring and sleep apnea.
Submucosal turbinate reduction
Submucosal turbinate reduction can reduce the congestion in the patient’s nose with a gentle non-surgical technique similar to liposuction with big improvements in snoring and sleep apnea.
Endoscopic polyp removal
Endoscopic polyp removal can also vastly improve the patient’s nasal breathing and reduce snoring and sleep apnea.
Soft Palate Tightening (UPPP)
Soft palate tightening procedures are also a very important part of snoring and sleep apnea treatment. The soft palate and uvula are where most of the noise and collapse originates. As the rapid and turbulent air from the nose passes the soft palate it actually stretches the soft palate and uvula over time. Sleep apnea patients can actually wake up with a swollen uvula in the morning from this suction.
Dr. Slaughter can perform Uvulapalatoplasty to correct this issue. Under the same comfortable IV sedation the uvula can be reduced and the soft palate stiffened using a very modern technique that Dr. Slaughter has pioneered. A special stiffening injection is performed to the soft palate that makes the patient’s soft palate elevate and stiffen over about 9 weeks. No foreign body or implant is required and the results are very long lasting. Snoring and sleep apnea are greatly reduced with this technique especially when combined with nasal procedures.
Base of tongue treatments
Base of tongue treatments work by focusing on the the base of the tongue to hold the tongue forward and help open the airway.
An oral appliance can be quite helpful when the base of the tongue is large. This is something that can be seen on evaluation by Dr. Slaughter and in these cases the best option is to have one of our special sleep dentists formulate a custom oral appliance to help hold the jaw and the associated tongue forward during sleep. When well fitted this will help open the airway, reduce snoring and apnea, and improve sleep quality without dental or TMJ issues.
Surgical treatments for sleep apnea
Surgical treatments under general anesthesia still play a role in treatment of apnea.
- Inspire Upper Airway Stimulator Therapy
- Maxillary Mandibular Advancement Surgeries
Tonsillectomy can be very successful in the right candidate especially when combined with uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (surgical stiffening of the soft palate and pharyngeal folds). This outpatient procedure is performed with the latest techniques to reduce the pain and downtime.
Inspire Upper Airway Stimulator Therapy
Inspire Upper Airway Stimulator Therapy is also available as a novel approach to treat severe apnea. This surgical therapy involves placing an implantable sleep apnea pacemaker to stiffen the airway during sleep.
Maxillary Mandibular Advancement Surgeries
Maxillary Mandibular Advancement Surgeries can also be performed in conjunction with Board Certified Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons to expand the back of the airway in certain cases.
Schedule a consultation
If you are experiencing problems related to sleep apnea, contact our office today! Call (512) 601-0303 to schedule a consultation with ENT specialist Dr. Slaughter.