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Sleep Conditions and Your Throat Health

Sleeping is important for our bodies, and keeps it running in tip top shape. Sometimes, breathing, nasal or throat conditions will affect the way you sleep. Breathing disorders related to sleeping can most commonly be described as obstructive sleep apnea. While that is the general term, it falls under several different variations, with all of them having associated risks. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, there is a chance your breathing related condition is preventing much needed rest from taking place every night

A night of good sleep over the long term can make the difference between a happy and miserable life.

Our professionals at Santa Cruz Ear, Nose and Throat Medical Group are experienced in throat health and sleep issues and are ready to help you get a better night’s rest!

Snoring and your throat

The most widely known affliction is snoring, something that is so popular that it continues to be popularized in movie comedies. The loudness of snoring is enough that it can keep the person next to you up, and in worse situations can keep an entire family up. While you are sleeping soundly though, everyone else around you will have a hard time trying to enter dreamland.

Snoring affects relationships, partnerships and your quality of rest. Getting shortchanged on your rest after sleeping for eight hours is the least of your worries, as there are many myths and complications associated with snoring. A better understanding of what snoring is and how it affects you is sure to open up options when dealing with it.

Snoring is caused when the air you breathe makes the tissues in the very back of the throat vibrate. This is during the inhaling phase, and shouldn’t be confused with sounds made while exhaling. Strangely enough, what is considered ‘snoring’ sounds when exhaling through the nose could be attributed to nose hairs.

Snoring through inhaling through the nose or mouth is very distinct and can happen during any phase of sleeping. Snoring affects just about half of the human population, and occurs in both men and women. Sleeping positions, drugs and alcohol can also make a person snore. This also includes over the counter drugs used for flu and cold.

Discerning the differences between regular run of the mill snoring and sleep apnea related snoring will be a big help. While regular snoring can be harmless, snoring that is related to obstructed breathing can be considered life threatening. Contacting a specialist from our office to run the appropriate tests will be the safest bet when it comes to deciding where you are when it comes to your snoring.

CPAP and breathing issues

When your sleeping conditions are being affected with breathing issues, a CPAP could be a lifesaver in more than one way. CPAP is an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure, and is a device that functions much like its name. Using steady air pressure it keeps the airways open as you sleep, and is a common solution to patients suffering with breathing problems associated with sleep apnea.

On the younger side, it is not uncommon for a CPAP to be used with infants suffering from birth defects. This is helpful for infants suffering from respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia or underdeveloped lungs.

A CPAP machine is easy enough to operate and a good alternative to those that would rather not have surgery. CPAP machine types vary, but all have three main parts; a mask with fittings, a tub that connects it to the motor, and a motor that sends air into the tube to help you breathe while sleeping. With the help of a CPAP, enough air will get to your lungs and stop the main cause of snoring. Advanced CPAP machines have heated humidifiers and are helpful for patients in different climates. Current machines are made to be small and quiet in order to conform to your partner that is also in bed.

Doctors that recommend CPAP machines may also decide to have you do an overnight sleep study. This is important as it helps doctors to better configure settings for your machine, as settings are only as effective for the person they are meant for. If discomfort is an issue, then simply talk to your doctor about a different mask or machine.

Even if you’re sleeping a full eight hours a day, the quality of sleep is what really matters. Obstructive breathing during sleep can cause high blood pressure and even the dreaded daytime sleepiness. In its current state, it is the least invasive of treatments that you can have to deal with obstructed breathing while sleeping.

Uvulopalatoplasty and your throat health

When surgery is the final decision, uvulopalatoplasty becomes the go to treatment for most patients. The surgery can completely eliminate loud snoring and is hugely beneficial for patients in close quarters with other people. When dealing with laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, the uvula is either partially diminished in size or completely removed.

The procedure was first done in 1986 by Dr. Yves-Victor Kamami with a success rate of 85 percent, leading to partial or complete elimination of snoring. Since then the procedure has been improved and is a lot more effective. Improvements to the original lead to less pain and is considered a much more conservative approach to the original.

Patients that don’t want to deal with a CPAP often turn to this procedure since it is a permanent fix with no upkeep. It deals with snoring in the fastest way possible and can be recommended for patients with mild apnea and grade II or III snoring. This isn’t set in stone, which is why it is recommended to talk to your doctor about specifics.

Like all surgical operations, uvulopalatoplasty comes with its share of possible complications. Patients that should avoid the surgical procedure are those with severe sleep apnea, cleft palates, hyperactive gag reflux, bleeding disorders, severe trismus and uncontrolled hypertension. The list is a lot longer, and the surgery is a bit more selective than just getting a CPAP. But for those lucky enough to have the option, it can be a true lifesaver in the making.

It’s important to note that while uvulopalatoplasty is a great option, alternatives exist in the form of dental obturators, injection snoreplasty, radiofrequency reduction of the palate and even the traditional uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.

If you’re still unsure whether your throat health might be impacting your sleep, don’t hesitate to call our office and schedule a visit with one of our specialists to determine if you could benefit from treatment!