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Sleep Apnea And Surgery
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder during which an individual stops breathing multiple times throughout the night. The person will often wake up feeling exhausted and have trouble focusing throughout the day. Sleep apnea can lead to obesity, cardio issues, and type 2 diabetes. Two of the most common treatment methods are CPAP machines and a septoplasty.
Treatment for sleep apnea starts with a sleep study. During the study, the patient will be hooked up to monitors to keep tracking of a variety of sleep-related functions (such as eye movement, respiratory airflow, and blood oxygen levels) throughout the night. The sleep study allows physicians to diagnose the type of sleep apnea, determine the severity, and come up with a treatment plan. Treatment includes a mix of lifestyle changes, sleeping devices such as CPAP machines, and dental appliances. More severe cases of sleep apnea are treated with surgery and nerve stimulation.
What is a CPAP?
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are the most common method of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. CPAPs are masks the patient will wear over the nose and/or mouth while sleeping. The masks keep the airway open during sleep by blowing a continuous flow of air in the airway. There are different types of CPAP machines available.
When surgery is needed
A septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to fix a deviated septum. The septum is the piece of bone and cartilage the separates the nose into two nostrils. Deviated septums occur when the bone/cartilage moves to one side. Inhibited airflow often leads to breathing difficulty and problems sleeping. Sleep apnea is common. Deviated septums can be genetic or caused by an injury. The only way to fix a deviated septum is through surgery. Surgery will create more room in the nose for air to pass through, making breathing easier and, in many cases, eliminating sleep apnea entirely.
Symptoms and risks to look out for
Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, gasping for air during sleep, dry mouth, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and difficulty with focus. Loud snoring is the most prevalent indicator of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can affect all ages and gender, though the condition is more commonly found in males. Risk factors include obesity, narrowed airways, genetics, alcohol consumption, smoking, narcotic use, and ongoing medical conditions. Sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and metabolic issues.
Surgery is not always necessary
The need for surgery depends on the type of sleep apnea. If the apnea is caused by the throat muscles relaxing, then a CPAP machine is likely the best method. The continuous airflow from the CPAP machines keeps the airway open, allowing for better breathing and more restful sleep. Surgery is only needed if there is a physical obstruction like a deviated septum preventing the individual from breathing normally. For more information about sleep apnea treatment, consult a healthcare provider.