Sleep Apnea/Snoring

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Riverton UT Sleep Apnea and Snoring Treatment by Dr. Gale

Salt Lake City, UT Sleep Surgeon

Sleeping is one of our most essential behaviors. It allows time for cellular repair in the brain and throughout the body. Yet, up to 100 million U.S. adults live with a sleeping disorder that prevents them (or their partner) from getting the necessary amount of quality sleep. 

Treatments for snoring and sleep apnea can offer permanent solutions to disruptive sleeping disorders. Snoring and sleep apnea are not necessarily related, but the two conditions are often linked. Snoring can be a warning sign of more severe health problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea. 

Dr. Derrick Gale is a highly trained reconstructive head and neck surgeon with fellowship training in sleep surgery and airway reconstruction. His years of experience, combined with his academic contributions to the medical industry, make him the expert that you’ll want to turn to for treatment of your snoring or sleep apnea. 

This page provides a thorough background as to the causes of snoring and sleep apnea, and to the treatments that are available for these conditions. If you have any pressing issues or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 801-506-6344 or visit the Ear Nose and Throat Center of Utah’s contact page to arrange a consultation.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea means ‘no air when sleeping.’ It is a condition affecting roughly 25% of American adults and involves interruption to your breathing as you sleep. There are three main types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea

This results from the complete closing of the airway due to the same factors that cause snoring (anatomically compromised airway and/or relaxation of the throat muscles), which is why treatments for these conditions can be similar. 

Central sleep apnea

This is a severe medical issue linked to cerebral malfunction in which the brain fails to send proper signals to your body’s breathing mechanisms.

 Complex sleep apnea syndrome.

This is a combination of the above two varieties of sleep apnea.

What are the Benefits of Treatment for Sleep Apnea?

By opting for sleep apnea and snoring treatment, patients give themselves far better sleep and an improved overall state of wellness. Disrupted sleeping patterns caused by sleep apnea have been linked to reduced daytime function and an increased chance of heart disease. 

If you have sleep apnea, you have an increased risk for diabetes, heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Treating sleep apnea can even save your life by reducing the heart failure risks associated with the condition.

For these reasons, if you or your loved one suffer from snoring or sleep apnea, you should consider consulting a medical professional immediately.  Learn more about Inspire Sleep Apnea Innovation

Gale sleep apnea inspire remote

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring occurs due to the relaxation of the throat and tongue as we sleep. 

Because the throat muscles relax and the tongue falls backward during sleep, the passage of air in and out of the lungs through the throat becomes constricted. The relaxed throat tissue loosens and vibrates when snorers breathe in and out, creating the snoring sounds. The tighter the airway becomes, the more severe the snoring can get until completely obstructing the airway. 

Numerous factors contribute to snoring. These can include:

As we age, the throat muscles relax and loosen more

Nasal blockage caused by allergies, congestion, polyps, or deviated septum can contribute to upper airway resistance, worsening throat constriction and lead to snoring.  However, fixing the nose does not, by itself, fix snoring for most patients. An elongated uvula or palate, large tongue, excess or lax throat tissues frequently are a cause of snoring. Small jaws can also be a major factor for a few patients.

Inflammation or infection of the sinuses, nose and throat leads to a constricted airway, thus resulting in snoring

Sleep position, alcohol consumption, and obesity are also factors that can contribute to snoring.

How Can Snoring be Treated?

Various methods can be used to treat snoring. These are not necessarily surgical, and can sometimes be as simple as changing your sleeping position. The correct treatment for you depends on the severity of your snoring.

Factors in your control that can improve snoring include the avoidance of alcohol and other muscle relaxants before sleeping, losing weight, and sleep position training.

Devices can be applied, such as oral appliances, during sleep to improve airflow through the throat and reduce snoring.

By surgically reducing the volume of the tongue and tightening the tissues of the airway snoring can be treated and possibly eliminated. Typically various treatments for sleep apnea address snoring at the same time as well.

If you suffer from particularly bad snoring, or snoring associated with unrestful sleep, or persistent sleepiness you might very well be suffering from sleep apnea. If this is the case, we recommend consulting a medical professional and discussing the options available to you.

Meet Dr. Derrick Gale, MD

Customized Consultations, Individualized Results

With a focus on improving both form and function, Dr. Gale applies experienced aesthetic judgment and surgical expertise to achieve each patient’s individual cosmetic and functional goals. While delivering the highest level of care and expertise, Dr. Gale and his team maintain a down-to-earth and comfortable atmosphere to put you at ease. 

What are the Risks Associated with Sleep Apnea?

In all cases of sleep apnea, the patient experiences shortness of breath and has reduced levels of blood oxygen. In the short term, this contributes towards a disrupted night’s sleep, where the patient is continuously prevented from reaching deep sleep and some sufferers suddenly awaken, gasping for air.  Many individuals with sleep apnea can be completely unaware that they are suffering from this silent disease.

In the long term, sleep apnea has been shown to dramatically increase the risk of heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Sleep apnea can truly be a fatal disease if left untreated.  In addition to these medical problems, it can also contribute to reduced wellbeing and quality-of-life, as sleep is critical for optimal functioning throughout the day.

What are the Treatments for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea treatments are similar to some snoring treatments. One of the most common and effective ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea is to use CPAP. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a device worn during sleep that creates air pressure at back of the throat to keep it from collapsing.  

Sleep apnea is also frequently treated with surgery. While several different operations can be performed to address sleep apnea, the primary goal of these surgeries is to expand the airway and provide more room for the unobstructed flow of air into and out of the lungs. 

Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment FAQ

While there are some medications available that will treat the symptoms of sleep apnea, it is imperative to directly treat the cause of snoring or sleep apnea, via CPAP, surgery, or other means.

Yes. Excess fat around the neck and within the tongue and pharynx significantly contribute to narrowing and collapse of the airway, which leads to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. By losing weight, people can experience improvements in the severity of their snoring or sleep apnea.

While it is extremely uncommon to suffocate in your sleep, untreated sleep apnea is a severe medical condition that dramatically increases the likelihood of heart failure and other serious conditions. If sleep apnea goes untreated, it can be a lethal condition.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms described above, or your partner’s snoring is highly disruptive, then you or your partner are candidates for some form of snoring or sleep apnea treatment. The specific treatment will depend on your symptoms and circumstances. We recommend consulting a medical professional to get expert advice and an individualized treatment plan. 

Depending on the type of surgery you receive, recovery may take several weeks to several months. In some severe cases of sleep apnea, it is necessary to modify the jawbone, which will require a lengthy healing time. See our jaw surgery page. In other cases where there is snoring and no sleep apnea, there are less invasive procedures can be effective requiring only a short recovery.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment in Riverton, UT and Salt Lake City, UT

Snoring or sleep apnea can become far more than an interruption to your or your partner’s sleep. As such, we recommend consulting a medical professional if you experience heavy snoring or sleep apnea. Dr. Derrick Gale’s expertise and specialized training make him an ideal choice to discuss any concerns you may have about you or a loved one’s disruptive sleep disorders. Please contact us or call us on 801-506-6344 to discuss any queries you may have.