Surgery opens the airway by removal of tissues, like tonsils, adenoids, nasal polyps, and structural deformities that may obstruct it. There are several types of procedures, but none are completely successful and without risk. It is also difficult to predict the outcome and side effects.
- One procedure, called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, removes tissue at the back of the throat. In addition to having low success rates of between 30%-60%, it is difficult to predict exactly which patients will benefit, as well as the long-term outcome and side effects.
- Other procedures include tracheostomy (creating a hole directly in the windpipe, for those with severe obstruction),surgical reconstructionfor those with deformities, andprocedures to treatobesity, which contributes to apnea.
Non-specific therapy addresses the behavioral aspects that may be an important part of a treatment program.
- If you are overweight, weight loss can reduce the number of apnea episodes. One should avoid depressants, like alcohol and sleeping pills, which can increase the likelihood of and prolong apnea episodes. Some people have apnea events only when lying on their back. So placing a pillow or other device to help keep you on your side may also help.
Other Sleep Disorders
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Particularly around bedtime, many people (about 15% of the population) experience "pins and needles feelings," an "internal itch," or a "creeping, crawling sensation" in their legs, with a subsequent irresistible urge to relieve this discomfort by vigorously moving their legs. This movement totally relieves the discomfort. These symptoms are classic for restless leg syndrome.RLS makes if difficult to fall asleep and may also awaken you out of sleep, forcing you to walk around to relieve the discomfort. Though not considered medically serious, symptoms of RLS can range from bothersome to having a severe impact on you and your bed partner's lives.
Most people with RLS also have periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD), repetitive movements of the toe, foot, and sometimes knee and hip during sleep. They are often recognized as brief muscle twitches, jerking movements, or an upward flexing of the feet. As with sleep apnea, sufferers may be unaware that RLS and PLMD disturb sleep and produce symptoms similar to those noted above. Once again, it is often the bed partner that brings this to light, as movements awaken him or her throughout the night. It is important to note that RLS and PLMD are associated with several other medical conditions, including iron-deficiency anemia. So one should, as always, seek proper medical attention.