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Obstructive Sleep Disorders

Obstructive sleep disorders, including snoring and sleep apnea, are caused by anatomical obstructions of the airway.  Airway obstruction can occur as a result of nasal congestion, swelling, decreased tissue tone, lax musculature, enlarged tongue or tonsils, elongated soft palate, increased body fat and posterior posturing of the jaw.

Snoring

While not causing any known medical condition, snoring can be very irritating and disruptive to the sleep partner. As air is inhaled or exhaled, the throat structures vibrate, producing a noise recognized as snoring.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is the more severe form of obstructive sleep disorder. Individuals with sleep apnea actually stop breathing for a period of at least 10 seconds, and then suddenly resume breathing again (often with a gasp.) This pattern may repeat itself several times an hour. Significant disruptions in respiration cause blood oxygen levels to dip and may result in sleep deprivation, daytime fatigue and cardiovascular illness.

Diagnosis

We diagnose sleep apnea through the use of:

Take-home studies

Overnight studies — polysomnography (PSG)

Treatment

Sleep apnea can be treated through:

  • Behavioral changes (weight loss and exercise)
  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
  • Oral appliances