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Sleep Apnea

Colorado West Otolaryngologists

Facial Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology Practice & Allergy Clinic located in Grand Junction, Montrose, and Gunnison, CO

Though sleep apnea is more common in adults, it also affects children. At any age, this condition can lead to complications like weight gain, high blood pressure, and heart arrhythmias. The ear, nose, and throat doctors at Colorado West Otolaryngologists, PC, deliver exceptional care for sleep apnea, from a thorough evaluation and diagnosis to conservative treatment. When necessary, ENT specialists also offer advanced surgery to treat sleep apnea. To learn if you or your child have sleep apnea, call one of the offices in Grand Junction, Montrose, or Gunnison, Colorado, or book an appointment online.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

What causes sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when soft tissues in your mouth and throat relax while you sleep. As the tissues relax, they move toward the airway at the back of your throat.

When the tissues block airflow, you briefly stop breathing until your brain nudges you to take a breath. The number of times you stop breathing every hour determines the severity of your apnea.

What symptoms occur if I have sleep apnea?

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Most patients don’t realize they snore, but their partner or others in the household usually notice.

In addition to snoring, you may have symptoms such as:

  • Excessive fatigue during the day
  • Morning headaches
  • Urinating during the night
  • Difficulty with concentration and memory

Children with sleep apnea have similar symptoms, but their fatigue often takes the form of oppositional behavior, hyperactivity, and crying or fussiness.

How do ENT doctors diagnose sleep apnea?

Your symptoms may strongly suggest sleep apnea. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor often uses a fiberoptic scope to examine your nose, mouth, and throat to see if other problems may cause your snoring.

The only sure way to diagnose sleep apnea, however, is with a sleep study. Most patients can do a sleep study at home. You simply attach sensors to your fingers, chest, and nose, and then the device records your breathing, oxygen levels, and airflow while you sleep.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Your treatment depends on the severity of your sleep apnea and your risk factors. If you have mild sleep apnea and you’re overweight, losing weight can often solve the problem.

When you need treatment beyond lifestyle changes, the gold standard is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This device keeps your airway open using a mask to send a steady stream of pressurized air into your mouth and throat.

Another treatment option is a custom-fitted oral appliance that prevents your tongue from covering your airway.

You may also be a good candidate for specialized surgery, such as:

  • An uvulopalatopharyngoplasty 
  • Thermal ablation 
  • Stiffening the soft palate
  • Hypoglossal nerve stimulation

These procedures work by removing, stiffening, or reducing the size of soft tissues. 

If you snore at night, or you’re so tired that you drag yourself through the day, call Colorado West Otolaryngologists, PC, or book an appointment online for a sleep apnea evaluation.