Introducing: Ask a Doctor
At UTHSC ENT, we understand that patients need clear, helpful answers to their questions. We also know that a flood of new information can be overwhelming.
That’s why our department’s introducing Ask a Doctor: an ongoing series of posts that tackle Frequently Asked Questions about common issues. We hope these articles give you a better understanding of your situation and an easy path to treatment.
Today, we discuss a common problem: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)!
Prepared by: Paden Duke, UTHSC College of Medicine
Reviewed by: Dr. Anthony Sheyn, Pediatric ENT specialist
What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA) occurs when there is a block in the airway that stops the right amount air from entering the lungs during sleep. This lack of air can result in poor and irregular sleep. It can impact behavior, school performance, heart health, development, metabolism, and overall health.
Common causes of obstructive sleep apnea include obesity, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, extra tissue, and other structural features such as micrognathia (small lower jaw) or retrognathia (abnormal position of the jaw).
What are obstructive sleep apnea’s symptoms?
The most common symptoms seen in obstructive sleep apnea include: loud snoring at night, excessive daytime sleepiness, night sweats, restless nights, bedwetting, and even hyperactivity in children.
If you have any of these symptoms, your doctor may recommend a sleep study or “polysomnography.” This is a non-invasive test in which patient spend the night while measurements such as oxygen content, airflow, and carbon dioxide are taken. A sleep study will help your doctor know if you have obstructive sleep apnea and how severe it is.
Patients should talk with their doctor if they have any of the symptoms listed above or if they are concerned about having obstructive sleep apnea.
UTHSC ENT offers a state of the art sleep surgery clinic. If you’d like to schedule a sleep study, we’d love to hear from you: 901-737-3021
What are treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?
Treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea include surgical and nonsurgical options. For adults, CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices can be worn during sleep. CPAP works by increasing the air pressure in your throat to prevent your airways from collapsing.
Surgery can also be an option for those with obstructive sleep apnea. In children, unusually large tonsils or adenoids can be removed to allow for better breathing at night; your doctor may refer to this surgery as a “adenotonsillectomy.”
Additional surgeries may also be needed depending on the severity of sleep apnea. Your doctor may also recommend avoiding sleeping on your back and weight loss through dieting and exercise.
If you’d like to learn more about CPAP, OSA, snoring, or other common sleep issues, we have a wealth of information! Feel free to browse these related articles.
How can our Dream Team help?
Our pediatric specialist, Dr. Anthony Sheyn, has wide-ranging experience in treating patients with all forms of nasal obstruction and sleep issues. If you have concerns about your child, please contact our offices to schedule an evaluation: 901-287-7337
For adults with OSA issues, we recommend contacting Dr. M Boyd Gillespie, director of our Sleep Surgery Clinic: 901-737-3021