Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea?

A restful night of sleep is essential to your health and well-being. At Jones ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery, we embrace a team approach to evaluating and treating sleep apnea. We arrange for comprehensive sleep evaluation with Home Sleep Studies and/or Overnight Sleep Studies, if indicated. Our team of sleep experts includes a sleep medicine physician, cardiologist, and ENT surgeon.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that involves repeated breathing interruptions during sleep. These interruptions may occur many times each night, resulting from structural abnormalities or brain malfunctions. During normal breathing, air passes through the nose, past the flexible structures in the back of the throat. When a person is awake, the muscles hold this airway open. Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway and airflow are blocked while a person is sleeping. This causes the oxygen levels to drop in both in the brain and the blood and results in shallow breathing or breathing pauses during sleep.

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Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up with a headache in the morning
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Insomnia
  • Abrupt awakenings during the night
  • Shortness of breath that awakens them from sleep

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can happen for many reasons. Certain factors may put certain people at risk for developing sleep apnea, which include:

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Nasal congestion
  • Throat and tongue muscles that are more relaxed than normal

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea may be treated with lifestyle changes such as losing weight, minimizing alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking. Individuals who suffer from severe cases of sleep apnea that may lead to serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure and heart problems may require surgery. In these surgeries, the goal is to remove excess tissue from the nose and/or throat to then open the air passages to facilitate breathing.

At Jones ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery, the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system is our most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. We also offer a revolutionary new treatment option, the Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation system. This device allows patients to sleep without the mask and straps required with CPAP.

Here’s more information on these two treatment options.

What is CPAP?

For those with moderate to severe sleep apnea, a breathing system that uses air pressure to keep the upper airway passages open can be effective. It’s called continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP. With CPAP, the patient wears a mask over his or her nose during sleep. This mask delivers air pressure that is somewhat greater than the air pressure in the bedroom. This difference is just enough to keep the upper airway passages open, preventing sleep apnea and snoring.

Would CPAP Cure my Sleep Apnea?

CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea and we use it frequently at Jones ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery. But the system isn’t right for everyone. Some people have a hard time adjusting to the mask and straps to keep it in place. They find it cumbersome and uncomfortable and can’t sleep with it on. Still, most patients can make adjustments are get used to CPAP. There are also different mask configurations to match different facial shapes. In addition, some patients benefit from using a humidifier along with their CPAP systems.

CPAP Alternatives

If you can’t get used to CPAP, there are other airway pressure devices we can try. One, called Auto-CPAP, automatically adjusts the air pressure while you’re sleeping. There are other units called BiPAP that supply bi-level positive airway pressure. Another option is called EPAP, expiratory positive airway pressure. These small devices are placed over each nostril. They are valves that allow air to enter the nostrils freely, but when exhaling, the air passes through small holes in the valves. This increases airway pressure.

What is the Inspire System?

The Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation system is an implantable treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea. We use it for patients who either can’t adjust to CPAP or aren’t getting the desired results from it. The Inspire system monitors every breath you take. It takes into account your breathing patterns and delivers mild stimulation to key airway muscles, which then keeps the airway open. Inspire has exciting possibilities for our patients who suffer from sleep apnea.

Watch Dr. Jones Discuss Inspire Sleep on Fox 25 News in Oklahoma City

How does Inspire work?

The Inspire system consists of two wires and a thin control device. In an outpatient procedure, the system is placed just under the skin of the neck and chest through three small incisions.

The patient uses a remote control to turn on the Inspire system when going to bed. The system gives the patient 30 minutes to fall asleep. From there, it monitors the user’s breathing patterns and when the breathing slows down (usually the time the airway will close at the back of the throat) the Inspire system delivers mild stimulation to the hypoglossal nerve, which controls the tongue and other key airway muscles. By stimulating these muscles the airway remains open and the patient sleeps soundly. In the morning, the patient turns off the Inspire system with the remote.

Will Inspire Work for Me?

About half of patients either can’t tolerate or use the CPAP sleep apnea system. For them, Inspire could be the perfect option. The FDA has approved Inspire and various insurance companies are in the process of reviewing and approving the device. Currently that is on a patient-by-patient basis. Our office will work with your insurance company to gain approval.

As for the device, we’ll determine if the structure of your airway is right for Inspire. Most people would qualify for Inspire if CPAP isn’t working for them, if they’re not significantly overweight, and if they’re over the age of 22.

Schedule a Consultation

If you are suffering from sleep apnea and interested in receiving treatment from Dr. Jones, call (405) 418-5400 to schedule a consultation. Jones ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery serves Oklahoma City and surrounding areas.