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Sleep Disorders/Snoring

Snoring is a common condition and is the noise produced by the vibration of the soft tissue in the upper throat. Although snoring can have impact on both your and your partner’s ability to sleep it is not necessarily damaging to one’s health. However, snoring can also be a symptom of a potentially more serious health problem called Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.

What are Sleep Disorders?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome, is defined either as a complete blockage of the air flow, known as apneas, occurring at least five times an hour, or partial blockages, known as hypopneas, occurring at least ten times per hour over the course of a night’s sleep.

What causes Snoring and/or Sleep Disorders?

Snoring and/or sleep disorders can be the result of obstructed nasal airways, which is why some people only snore during high pollen season, or it can be the result of nasal polyps or a deviated septum. If the throat and tongue muscles become too relaxed then they can fall back into the airway; this can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption, use of sedatives or due to the ageing process which is why snoring is more common in older people. It can also be the result of an enlarged uvula, the soft tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat, and/or the back of the tongue, blocking the air flow.

There are a number of factors that make snoring and/or sleep disorders more likely; it is more common in men than women, it is more common in those that are overweight, it is more common in older people and it is more common in people who use drugs or medication that cause sedation, such as alcohol, sedatives and antihistamines.

What are the associated problems?

If snoring is affecting your sleep it can have a very damaging impact on how you function during the daytime.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome can result in serious health problems. When the breathing is obstructed, the amount of oxygen in the blood falls which can, over time, cause high blood pressure, heart failure and heart rhythm abnormalities. It can also cause a wide range of associated conditions ranging from depression to impotence and Mr Fayad often finds that, when the sleep disorder is treated, many other medical conditions also improve in the patient.

What are your treatment options?

The first step Mr Fayad takes is to take a complete medical history and then perform an examination of the upper respiratory tract, including the voice box and the lower throat. This he will perform with a flexible fibreoptic laryngoscope and the aim is to look for any normal or abnormal structures in the upper airway that are interfering with the normal flow of air during breathing.

Some of the potential contributing factors to snoring and sleep apnea include enlargement of the uvula, elongation of the soft palate, tonsil enlargement, nasal obstruction, or tongue enlargement. Nasal obstruction can result from a great many abnormalities including deviation of the nasal septum, nasal polyps, and allergies.

Sleep Apnea
If the patient appears to be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome then Mr Fayad will perform a test known as a polysomnogram. This is also known as a sleep study and it is an overnight test where measurements of breathing and other body functions during sleep are made to determine if the problem is simple snoring or the more serious Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome.

For some patients, weight loss and treatment for nasal obstruction are the only treatments needed to solve the problem. For others, certain kinds of devices can be used to either hold the mouth a bit open during sleep or to pump air through the nose during sleep.

Surgical treatments are usually oriented toward removal of excess tissue in the upper throat or correction of nasal blockage. Mr Fayad will explain the procedure in depth at the consultation stage.

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