Sleep Disorders

The importance of a good night's rest can't be over-emphasized. Getting enough quality sleep can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. It improves your overall mood, metabolism and performance. That's why Charleston ENT & Allergy has focused so many of its resources into treating and diagnosing sleep disorders.

Your body deserves a good night's rest. If you're having trouble sleeping, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today.

Need more information? Check out some of the topics below to learn more about specific sleep disorders many people face.

Snoring

Sleep Apnea

Snoring

Snoring is a common sleep disorder that can affect a person at any age, although it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight.

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is caused by a physical obstruction of the flow of air through the mouth and nose. The walls of the throat vibrate during breathing, resulting in the distinctive sounds of snoring.

What Are the Health Risks of Snoring?

Habitual snorers are known to experience a higher risk for serious health problems such as obstructive sleep apnea. This condition creates several problems, including:

  • Long interruptions of breathing (more than 10 seconds) during sleep caused by partial or total obstruction or blockage of the airway. Serious cases can have total blockage episodes hundreds of times per night.
  • Frequent waking from sleep, even though you may not realize it.
  • Blood oxygen levels are often lowered, which causes the heart to pump harder and blood pressure to rise. The result is a poor night's sleep, which leads to drowsiness during the day and can interfere with the persons quality of life. Prolonged suffering from obstructed sleep apnea will result in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
Treatments

If you occasionally snore, you can try the following behavior changes to help treat the problem:

  • Lose weight and improve your eating habits.
  • Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before you go to bed.
  • Avoid alcohol, heavy meals, or snacks at least four hours before you sleep.
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns. For example, try to go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Sleep on your side rather than on your back.
  • Tilt the head of your bed up four inches.

If none of the above mentioned behavioral changes help snoring, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today. We offer a variety of treatment options that may reduce or eliminate snoring.

Sleep Apnea

Relaxed and steady breathing is natural for most sleepers, but some people snore so loudly that they literally wake the neighbors. Loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition that interrupts your breathing.

Diagnosis

After reviewing your symptoms, the doctor will ask you whether you have ever broken or severely injured your nose and whether you have ever had nasal surgery. The physician will look at your nose and the position of your nasal septum. Your doctor will use a bright light and a nasal speculum (an instrument that gently spreads open your nostril) to inspect the inside surface of each nostril. The lining tissues of the nose may be temporarily shrunken by use of Afrin or Neosynephrine nasal spray to get a better look at the entire septum. Sometimes a fiberoptic scope will be inserted in the nose to look at the posterior septum directly.

If your deviated septum is causing troublesome nosebleeds, repeated sinus infections or other significant problems, then your otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) may recommend surgical correction.

Treatments & Procedures

Lifestyle changes, medication, air pressure devices, oral appliances, and surgery are used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Physicians usually advise people with this condition to lose weight and avoid alcohol and sedatives. Sleeping in a different position may help if you experience apnea only when lying on your back. If the appropriate lifestyle changes don't reduce apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or oral appliances may be effective. In some cases, surgery may be necessary. It's best to get an opinion from a specialist with expertise in sleep disorders to discuss potential surgical options.

If you're having trouble sleeping, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today. We offer a variety of treatment options that may reduce the effects of sleep apnea.