Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder, in which breathing during sleep repeatedly becomes too shallow, or stops altogether. The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea, and occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep. When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes, and breathing momentarily stops. If you think you might have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor immediately.

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Snoring is a common problem experienced by many. While we sleep, the muscles in our body relax, including those in and around the throat.

As we breathe, air flows past tissues in the nose and throat, causing them to vibrate. The sound of this vibration is what we refer to as snoring. In its earliest stages, snoring may only cause minimal disruption to sleep. Chronic snoring can interrupt, and reduce the quality of sleep for someone, as well as those around them.

People who sleep next to a chronic snorer can lose on average one hour of sleep each night. Losing sleep can cause irritability, high blood pressure, difficulty concentrating and fatigue, which can be extremely dangerous while driving or operating machinery. Many couples cope with snoring by sleeping in separate rooms. This often puts strain on a relationship, and contributes to a loss of intimacy.

There are ways to address factors that contribute to snoring. Losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol prior to sleeping, or sleeping on your side can all help reduce snoring. For more severe cases, medical devices and surgery are available that may reduce disruptive snoring. If you or someone you know is living with a snoring problem, speak with your doctor and ask about which options may be appropriate for you.

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Pillar Procedure

The Pillar Procedure is a simple, safe, minimally invasive treatment for snoring and mild to moderate obstruction sleep apnea. During the Pillar Procedure,
three tiny polyester implants are placed into the soft palate using a small delivery tool. These implants work together with the body’s natural fibrotic response, to add structural support and stiffen the soft palate over several years. This support and stiffening of the soft palate reduces the closing of the airway during sleep, preventing the vibrations that can cause snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. The Pillar Procedure does not require incisions or the removal of any soft palate tissue, so discomfort is minimal. This is an outpatient procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s office, and takes approximately 20 minutes. The Pillar Procedure may also be performed with other procedures that can improve breathing through the nose. Relieving any nasal blockage can help decrease snoring, and can also address the effects of sleep apnea. Some patients experience minimal swelling or discomfort for a day or two after the procedure, and use an over-the-counter pain reliever. You should not be able to see or feel the implants in your soft palate, and most people are able to resume normal activities and diet the same day of the procedure.

Some patients report a noticeable improvement within weeks, and by three months, experience the full benefit of the Pillar Procedure.

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