Our specialists at ENT & Sleep Specialists use fiber-optic tools to examine the upper airway and the latest sleep diagnostic equipment to fully understand and customize a plan to best accommodate the patient’s lifestyle and severity of sleeping disorder. We have the expertise and technology to offer patients a full spectrum of nonsurgical and surgical treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by irregular breathing during sleep. Interruptions in breathing during sleep can have many different causes. These include obesity, your mouth, nose, or throat shape.
Usually, sleep apnea happens when tissues in your throat, tongue, or uvula block your airway while you’re sleeping. But whatever the cause, the first step to treatment of any sleeping disorder is diagnosis.
The services that we offer can be used to diagnose and treat a variety of sleeping disorders. No matter what your sleeping needs may be, ENT & Sleep Specialists can help!
In-lab Sleep Studies (Polysomnography)
The most comprehensive kind of diagnostics for a sleeping disorder is done through an in-lab sleep study. This study uses something called a polysomnogram.
You’ll sleep in a dedicated sleep-study room with wires placed over your body that are connected to the polysomnogram. Technicians will use this device to track and analyze your eye movement, breathing, oxygen intake, limb movement, heart rate, and brain waves.
The data provided from the study will help your specialist diagnose sleep apnea, parasomnias, narcolepsy, and hypersomnia, among other sleeping disorders.
An at-home sleep study may be a good option for patients who want to confirm if they have sleep apnea. The test involves a device that hooks up to your nostrils through an oxygen mask that measures your breathing.
Since this test can only track your breathing, it’s only for diagnosing sleep apnea. If the test data doesn’t confirm sleep apnea, it may not mean you don’t have the condition.
If you or your specialist still believe you may have a sleeping disorder, a comprehensive in-lab sleep study may be warranted.
A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP, is a standard treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP helps you breathe normally while you sleep.
CPAP titration is a sleep study that uses a CPAP and monitors your breathing so your specialist can determine if the treatment is effective. CPAP is an effective treatment for many patients with sleep apnea, but it’s crucial to find out if it works for you or if you need an alternate treatment.
Multiple Sleep Latency Testing
Multiple sleep latency testing is another in-lab test that takes place for a full day. You’ll take 4-5 twenty-minute naps while technicians monitor you to find out how quickly you fall asleep.
This test can be used to determine if you’re receiving effective sleep apnea treatment. It can also be used to diagnose narcolepsy and hypersomnia.
Maintenance of Wakefulness Testing
This test places you in an environment without light, sound, or any activity and monitors how long you can stay awake without any stimulation. This test can also diagnose several sleeping disorders and determine how well treatment for sleep apnea is working for you.
After you’ve received a diagnosis of having a sleeping disorder, there are many different kinds of treatment options available. Some involve non-invasive methods, like a CPAP machine, but sometimes, surgery is a recommendation. Here are some of the more common surgical procedures for sleep apnea:
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a procedure that reorients the tissue in the throat behind the roof of the mouth. The surgeon can remove parts of your palate, uvula, and even remove your tonsils.
The change in your throat shape may help you breathe better while sleeping, but moderate and severe sleep apnea may require further treatment.
Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction (RFVTR):
Like UPP, RFTVR is best for mild sleep apnea, although it can also be effective for moderate sleep apnea. It cauterizes tissues in and around the throat to shrink them.
Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction:
A deviated septum may cause sleep apnea. A septoplasty can straighten it out.
Turbinate reduction reduces the size of turbinates. Turbinates are the curved structures in your nose along the nasal cavity sides that can become enlarged and prevent regular breathing.
Sleep apnea is often caused by the tongue blocking your airway. A genioglossus advancement moves the tongue forward to prevent it from falling back while you’re sleeping.
This procedure pulls the hyoid bone, which is in the neck, forward. By pulling the hyoid bone forward, it gives the part of your throat that holds the epiglottis and tongue more room.
Moving the hyoid bone forward prevents these structures from blocking your airway.
Midline Glossectomy and Lingualplasty:
These two procedures aren’t used as often, but they can help you breathe better by removing part of the back of your tongue.
Maxillomandibular Osteotomy (MMO) and Advancement (MMA):
A maxillomandibular osteotomy (MMO) and advancement (MMA) involves moving your whole jaw forward. It’s a more intensive procedure that requires the bones in your jaw to be cut.
It has a lengthy recovery period, but this procedure can effectively treat severe sleep apnea.
These implants are rods that are placed in the back of the roof of your mouth to keep the airway open while you sleep.
Weight Loss Surgery:
Sleep apnea is often associated with obesity. Weight loss may help relieve symptoms of sleep apnea.
When a patient has trouble losing weight on their own, their doctor may recommend surgery. Some of these surgeries can be risky, so a thorough evaluation is needed before a doctor can recommend them.
Laser-assisted Uvuloplasty (LAUP):
Laser-assisted uvuloplasty (LAUP) is another rare procedure. It involves trimming the soft palate and uvula.
Because of the use of a laser, this can be a less-invasive alternative to UPPP, but in turn, it’s often less effective.
In emergencies, you can connect a breathing tube through your neck to your windpipe. It allows you to breathe through the tube at night, although it needs to be plugged to allow you to breathe through your mouth and nose and speak normally during the day.
This surgery is only recommended for extreme cases and is rarely used for sleep apnea.
Do you have concerns about sleep apnea? Request an appointment at ENT & Sleep Specialists in Clinton, MD, today!