Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Snoring


     There are three forms of sleep apnea: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and complex or mixed sleep apnea (i.e., a combination of central and obstructive). In CSA, breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort; in OSA, breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite respiratory effort, and snoring is common.

     Regardless of type, an individual with sleep apnea is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. Sleep apnea is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body (sequelae). Symptoms may be present for years (or even decades) without identification, during which time the sufferer may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance.

The diagnosis of sleep apnea is based on the evaluation of clinical symptoms (e.g. excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue) and of the results of a formal sleep study (polysomnography). The latter aims at establishing an "objective" diagnosis indicator linked to the quantity of apneic events per hour of sleep (Apnea Hypopnea Index(AHI), or Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI)), associated to a formal threshold, above which a patient is considered as suffering from sleep apnea, and the severity of his sleep apnea can be then quantified.

     Nevertheless, due to the number and variability in the actual symptoms and nature of apneic events (e.g., hypopnea vs apnea, central vs obstructive), the variability of patients physiology, and the intrinsic imperfections of the experimental setups and methods, this field is opened to debate. Within this context, the definition of an apneic event depends on several factors (e.g. patient's age) and account for this variability through a multi-criteria decision rule described in several, sometimes conflicting, guidelines. One example of a commonly adopted definition of an apnea (for an adult) includes a minimum 10 second interval between breaths, with either a neurological arousal (a 3-second or greater shift in EEG frequency, measured at C3, C4, O1, or O2) or a blood oxygen desaturation of 3–4% or greater, or both arousal and desaturation.

Pulse Oximetry

Pulse Oximetry which measure the oxygen saturation in the blood, may be performed overnight in a patient's home, and  is an easier alternative to formal sleep study (polysomnography). In one study, normal overnight oximetry was very sensitive and so if normal, sleep apnea was unlikely. In addition, home oximetry may be equally effective in guiding prescription for automatically self-adjusting continuous positive airway pressure.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

     Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common category of sleep-disordered breathing. The muscle tone of the body ordinarily relaxes during sleep, and at the level of the throat the human airway is composed of collapsible walls of soft tissue which can obstruct breathing during sleep. Mild occasional sleep apnea, such as many people experience during an upper respiratory infection, may not be important, but chronic severe obstructive sleep apnea requires treatment to prevent low blood oxygen (hypoxemia), sleep deprivation, and other complications.
     Individuals with low muscle tone and soft tissue around the airway (e.g., because of obesity) and structural features that give rise to a narrowed airway are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. The elderly are more likely to have OSA than young people. Men are more likely to suffer sleep apnea than women and children are, though it is not uncommon in the latter two population groups.

     The risk of OSA rises with increasing body weight, active smoking and age. In addition, patients with diabetes or "borderline" diabetes have up to three times the risk of having OSA.

     Common symptoms include loud snoring, restless sleep, and sleepiness during the daytime. Diagnostic tests include home oximetry or polysomnography in a sleep clinic.
Some treatments involve lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol or muscle relaxants, losing weight, and quitting smoking. Many people benefit from sleeping at a 30-degree elevation of the upper body or higher, as if in a recliner. Doing so helps prevent the gravitational collapse of the airway. Lateral positions (sleeping on a side), as opposed to supine positions (sleeping on the back), are also recommended as a treatment for sleep apnea, largely because the gravitational component is smaller in the lateral position. Some people benefit from various kinds of oral appliances to keep the airway open during sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the treatment of choice. There are also surgical procedures to remove and tighten tissue and widen the airway.

     As already mentioned, snoring is a common finding in people with this syndrome. Snoring is the turbulent sound of air moving through the back of the mouth, nose, and throat. Although not everyone who snores is experiencing difficulty breathing, snoring in combination with other conditions such as overweight and obesity has been found to be highly predictive of OSA risk. The loudness of the snoring is not indicative of the severity of obstruction, however. If the upper airways are tremendously obstructed, there may not be enough air movement to make much sound. Even the loudest snoring does not mean that an individual has sleep apnea syndrome. The sign that is most suggestive of sleep apneas occurs when snoring stops.

     Other indicators include (but are not limited to): hypersomnolence, obesity BMI >30, large neck circumference (16 in (410 mm) in women, 17 in (430 mm) in men), enlarged tonsils and large tongue volume, micrognathia, morning headaches, irritability/mood-swings/depression, learning and/or memory difficulties, and sexual dysfunction.

The term "sleep-disordered breathing" is commonly used in the U.S. to describe the full range of breathing problems during sleep in which not enough air reaches the lungs (hypopnea and apnea). Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, diabetes, and sleep deprived driving accidents. When high blood pressure is caused by OSA, it is distinctive in that, unlike most cases of high blood pressure (so-called essential hypertension), the readings do not drop significantly when the individual is sleeping. Stroke is associated with obstructive sleep apnea.

     In the June 27, 2008, edition of the journal Neuroscience Letters, researchers revealed that people with OSA show tissue loss in brain regions that help store memory, thus linking OSA with memory loss. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists discovered that sleep apnea patients' mammillary bodies were nearly 20 percent smaller, particularly on the left side. One of the key investigators hypothesized that repeated drops in oxygen lead to the brain injury.

Treatment

     For mild cases of sleep apnea, a treatment which is a lifestyle change is sleeping on one's side, which can prevent the tongue and palate from falling backwards in the throat and blocking the airway. Another is avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, which can relax throat muscles, contributing to the collapse of the airway at night.
The Pillar Procedure is a minimally invasive treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. This procedure was FDA indicated in 2004. During this procedure, three to six+ dacron (the material used in permanent sutures) strips are inserted into the soft palate, using a modified syringe and local anesthetic. While the procedure was initially approved for the insertion of three "pillars" into the soft palate, it was found that there was a significant dosage response to more pillars, with appropriate candidates. After this brief and virtually painless outpatient operation, which usually lasts no more than 30 minutes, the soft palate is more rigid and snoring and sleep apnea can be reduced. This procedure addresses one of the most common causes of snoring and sleep apnea - vibration or collapse of the soft palate (the soft part of the roof of the mouth). If there are other factors contributing to snoring or sleep apnea, such as the nasal airway or an enlarged tongue, it will likely need to be combined with other treatments to be more effective.

     For moderate to severe sleep apnea, the most common treatment is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or Automatic Positive Airway Pressure (APAP) device, which 'splints' the patient's airway open during sleep by means of a flow of pressurized air into the throat. The patient typically wears a plastic facial mask, which is connected by a flexible tube to a small bedside CPAP machine. The CPAP machine generates the required air pressure to keep the patient's airways open during sleep. Advanced models may warm or humidify the air and monitor the patient's breathing to ensure proper treatment. Although CPAP therapy is extremely effective in reducing apneas and less expensive than other treatments, some patients find it extremely uncomfortable. Many patients refuse to continue the therapy or fail to use their CPAP machines on a nightly basis.

     In addition to CPAP, dentists treating sleep disorders can prescribe Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). The oral appliance is a custom-made mouthpiece that shifts the lower jaw forward, opening up the airway. OAT is usually successful in patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. OAT is a relatively new treatment option for sleep apnea in the United States, but it is much more common in Canada and Europe.

     Oral appliance therapy can be used in moderate to severe apnea cases because it will allow the CPAP to be used at a lower pressure which will make it more comfortable for the patient.

     Surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea should be individualized in order to address all anatomical areas of obstruction. Often, correction of the nasal passages needs to be performed in addition to correction of the oropharynx passage. Septoplasty and turbinate surgery may improve the nasal airway. Tonsillectomy and uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3) are available to address pharyngeal obstruction. 

(Wikipedia)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Page 1

                                                                                            


            
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