Achieving maximum and comfortable sleep is an inseparable aspect of leading healthy lifestyles. Sleep is very important and rejuvenates the whole body. However, there are many sleeping problems that may require various treatment options ranging from lifestyle changes to surgical operations. Sleep apnea is one of the common problems that may call for surgery.
What is sleep apnea?
In brief description, sleep apnea refers to a condition where breathing repeatedly and frequently stops and starts at a high frequency. This condition can develop to serious levels and gradually leads to various heart and brain problems. It is therefore advisable to see a doctor immediately you discover you have the condition. Sleep apnea can manifest through loud snores at night and feeling sleepy or tired even after maximum sleep and rest. It also causes symptoms such as daytime sleepiness and can lead to future diabetes, stroke, weight gain and high blood pressure. The breathing pauses for about 10 to 20 seconds jolting you out of natural sleeping rhythms and patterns. The deprivation implies you spend more time in light-sleep and less time in restorative deep sleep needed for energy refilling and alertness. This may result in reduced brain activity, sharpness, poor concentration and heightened risk of accidents. Fortunately, sleep apnea is curable and the first step is identifying its symptoms and separating it from normal snoring.
Apnea signs and symptoms
Identifying the symptoms of sleep apnea can be quite overwhelming, especially if you do not have a sleeping partner. Usually, pauses that happen while snoring followed by gasping or choking present the major symptoms. Another common sign of apnea is daytime sleepiness where you may rapidly fall asleep during the quiet moments. Others include morning headaches, frequent sleep disturbances and waking up to urinate, dry mouth and sore throats in the morning, memory and learning problems as well as irritability and depression. In children, sleep apnea may result in snoring, taking certain positions when sleeping and even nightmares. If your child is diagnosed with this condition, you can opt for surgery to correct it and restore normal breathing.
Types of sleep apnea
There are three main types of the conditions that include obstructive, central and complex apnea. Obstructive apnea generally occurs when the soft tissues found at the back of your throat relax and block the airway. This can make you snore loudly and eventually cause breathing pauses. Central apnea is as a less popular type that results from issues with central nervous system. In this case, the brain fails to signal breathing-controlling muscles leading to disrupted rhythms. Lastly, complex sleep apnea is a combination of the two types and is more dangerous than either. The best way to treat the condition, especially central apnea, is through surgery.
How effective is sleep apnea surgery?
Sleep apnea surgery is aimed at achieving two main goals which include restoring normal breathing patterns when sleeping and relieving related symptoms. Opting for a surgical procedure should be the last resort when other remedies have failed. It is important to know the risk factors of apnea and other underlying factors that may cause the condition. Lifestyle changes like weight loss and quitting smoking can help reduce episodes of apnea. However, persistent cases may require surgical operations. Surgeries are very effective and usually result in normal breathing. Nonetheless, the procedure has various risks including infection complications after surgery. It should therefore be handled by experienced medical professionals and patients should be under watch until they have fully recovered from the surgery. The procedure generally involves removing tonsils and adenoids and/or excess tissue that has formed on the back of the throat. This results in a wider airway thus reducing apnea episodes.
Central sleep apnea surgery
While tonsil, adenoids and excess throat tissue removal may effectively solve obstructive apnea, advanced procedures are required in treating central apnea. This condition is caused by lapses in brain signal transmission where breathing muscles fail to function as a result of delayed signals. It can be caused by underlying medical conditions and overloaded brain activity. Ensuring correct sleeping patterns and comfortable conditions are part of preventing central apnea. While there is no specific surgical process aimed at re-establishing brain signal transmission and response, there are various surgery choices available for treating this problem. They include te following;
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty which is commonly used in adult cases
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Bariatric surgery and palatal plastic implants
These surgeries basically increase the airway creating an environment that promotes effortless breathing. It is important to first treat or manage the underlying cause of central apnea before resolving to surgical procedures.
Child sleep apnea surgery
Sleep apnea is not only for aged adults and can also affect children including infants. When this happens, immediate treatment is needed. The condition can lead to various defects, including slowed alertness and development. Central apnea is very rare in children and obstructive conditions are the most common. Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are the main surgical procedures used in correcting apnea in children. These surgeries aim at removing tonsils, adenoids and extra tissues to widen the airway.
Cost of surgery and best practices
Sleep apnea surgery costs vary from one medical institution to another, although the average range is between $1,000 and $3,000. The cost usually includes overnight sleep monitoring and diagnosis of symptoms, observation interpretation and actual corrective surgery. Apnea surgery is usually not recommended or approved unless other methods and techniques have failed. Surgeries such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty can cost up to $10,000 because they involve restructuring the dental pattern and may even include nose jobs. Some of the best practices that can help prevent or resolve apnea include loosing extra weight and fat, quitting smoking, sleeping on your side rather than back, using nasal sprays to open up nasal passage at night and avoiding alcohol or medications that induce sleep.
Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder that can affect anyone due to its diverse risk factors. It is important to diagnose and treat the problem as soon as it is discovered. This will prevent risks for escalated conditions and other complications. Always choose highly professional licensed medical doctors and surgeons to handle the treatment. With that said, both obstructive and central sleep apnea can be treated and there are many practices that can help restore normal breathing.