Staying Open-Minded About Your Healthcare

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn't know what I was going to do. After the devastation subsided, I decided to take a very standard, western approach to my healing. Although initial efforts were successful, my cancer recurred a few months later. I endured many additional months of treatment before I started focusing on myself. I decided it was time to incorporate complimentary alternative treatments into my healing regimen, including massage therapy. I can't even begin to tell you how much it changed my life. My healing became a process, instead of something I simply had to endure. I hope that the articles on my website can inspire you to stay open-minded about your own healthcare.

How Upper Throat Surgery Can Help Treat Your Sleep Apnea

Health & Medical Blog

For certain sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), surgery targeting the upper throat area is often seen as the best way to improve or eliminate symptoms. Although there are other methods that are often recommended first, targeting the upper throat for surgery is something you should consider exploring when other methods are not producing the results you want. Here is an overview of surgical methods available for the upper throat, how they're beneficial, and even information about the risks involved to help you make the best decision possible.

Sleep Apnea Basics

Sleep apnea is a serious threat to your health, and involves cessation or slowing of breathing and can strike hundreds of times over the course of the night. Not only can this condition leave you fatigued and drowsy, but can lead to stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease. For many people, their sleep apnea is caused by different factors, which means sleep apnea requires a sleep study and examination by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor who can help determine exactly where your sleep apnea is stemming from.

Most of the time, you will be provided with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. You may be advised to lose weight, but often an ENT doctor will also recommend surgery, especially if other methods haven't worked for you. Often surgery can also complement other methods, such as CPAP, to provide more comprehensive relief.

Upper Throat Surgery Options

Although ENT's can target many areas of your respiratory system for sleep apnea surgery, such as the nose and lower throat area, the upper throat area is a relatively common culprit for sleep apnea issues. The upper throat area consists of the uvula, tonsils and palate area. These areas can often collapse or narrow when you experience an apnea event. As a result, ENT doctors will usually try to enlarge this area and create a more favorable environment for your airway to remain open while you sleep.  

For some sleep apnea sufferers, the tonsils and adenoids may be the sole reason why you may be suffering sleep apnea and snoring. This is particularly the case for children who are suffering from sleep apnea, as their tonsils and adenoids are often enlarged and responsible for blocking their airway. Once the tonsils and adenoids are removed, you may experience a complete remission of their apnea, including cessation of snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms.

Your ENT may also identify an even larger area of your palate area to remove, and will perform an Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This can include removing the uvula, parts of the soft palate, and the pharynx in addition to the adenoids and tonsils. This is a more serious surgical procedure utilized for more severe cases of sleep apnea, and may be combined with other types of ENT surgeries to target different areas responsible for your sleep apnea.

Risks Involved

All of these surgeries are performed under general anesthesia, and may require an overnight stay in a hospital. Your recovery and the severity of complications depend on the areas targeted for surgery, how much tissue is removed, and which types of tissue are removed. You may have to take time off from work and school to recover, as well as temporarily modify your diet due to pain, swelling and even potential infections that can arise after surgery.

There are risks involved with some surgeries, including bleeding, acid reflux, and a swelling of the targeted areas that leads to a return of sleep apnea. It's important to speak with your ENT doctor about potential benefits and risks of each surgical procedure to get the results that are best for you.

For more information, contact Scott Callahan MD or a similar medical professional.


21 January 2015