Treatments for Sleep Apnea

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Baptist Health Madisonville: Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Ear, nose and throat doctor Robert Willis, MD, talks about the causes of sleep apnea and describes how proper treatment can help patients lead healthier, happier lives.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea HealthTalks Transcript

Robert Willis, MD
Sleep apnea is a condition whereby people stop breathing while they are sleeping. It can be caused by a blockage in the throat or improper signals from the brain. Symptoms of sleep apnea relate to the fact that you’re not getting enough sleep at night and as a result, it can exacerbate other medical conditions like heart failure or cardiovascular disease that affect patients, causing myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke. But even more commonly, it can affect the quality of life … being more irritable, can lead to depression, and can exacerbate other medical problems.

The treatment options depend upon how severe the problem is. They range from simple things like CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure. Unfortunately, many patients, over a three month period, if they try this, are unable to carry out its use during the night. As an otolaryngologist, we do a variety of surgeries that can help patients with sleep apnea. Some of the more commonly done procedures are nasal surgeries, for instance, to open up the nasal airway. Those surgeries can not only help decrease sleep apnea, but also can make the use of CPAP much more effective, because patients who can’t breathe through their nose have great difficulty with CPAP in many cases. A recently treated patient said that not only had his mood improved, but that his quality of life has dramatically improved to the point where he is a much happier and productive person.