Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Palate and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

In describing obstructive sleep apnea, we often talk about the collapse of the airways during sleep. Now, the Journal Archives of Otolaryngology reports that at least one of these anatomical changes has been imaged during actual apnea/hypoxia events. In a study reported in the February issue, researchers investigated changes to the soft palate experienced by sleepers to determine whether particular soft palate changes could be used to distinguish between obstructive sleep apnea sufferers and simple snorers.

The palate is the roof of the mouth. The front of the palate is the hard palate, and behind it is the soft palate, which extends back to the uvula (the fleshy, dangling protuberance at the back of the mouth). Using sleep videofluoroscopy to measure anatomical changes and polysomnography to identify apnea/hypoxia events, researchers found that the soft palate behaved very differently in sleep apnea sufferers than it did in simple snorers. Sleep apnea sufferers were more likely to see the soft palate expand backward during sleep. And this expansion was linked to instances of apnea and hypoxia.

The distinction between simple snorers and obstructive sleep apnea sufferers is a crucial part of delivering the right solution for those with sleep disordered breathing. Simple snoring is just a nuisance, but the dangers of sleep apnea make it a deadly condition that can dramatically reduce a person's life expectancy.

If you need help getting the best solution for your sleep apnea, please schedule a sleep apnea consultation with dentist, Dr. Ira Shapria at the Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee, Illinois today.

posted by Lynn at 9:42 AM