Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Reviewed by
Published on
April 24, 2020
Updated on
March 7, 2023

We covered obstructive sleep apnea versus central sleep apnea in a different segment. In this segment, we're just gonna break down obstructive sleep apnea.

As we've mentioned before, obstructive sleep apnea is a throat issue 100% of the time. The issues that cause obstructive sleep apnea are always anatomic. It's how somebody's built in the back of the throat.

We talked about the nose, previously. We talked about if somebody's got a nose problem, either you've got an anatomy problem, or a problem with the lining on the inside of the nose.

If somebody has sleep apnea, they have an, they do have an anatomy problem, period. Now, the anatomy could be compromised, meaning things are just tight back there, and/or somebody could have extra weight on board, which makes the anatomy more compromised. But the end of the day, it's really a plumbing issue back there.

Now why might somebody have sleep apnea? What kind of anatomy issues can cause somebody's, to not breathe properly at night? And it's really, if you think about the back of the throat as a circle, anywhere around that circle you can have an issue. When we look in the back of the throat, you know, just to orient those that aren't seeing patients on a day-to-day basis, when you look, when we look in the back in the throat, if you look to the sides, if somebody hasn't had their tonsils out, then what you'll see are two lumps of tissue to the sides of the throat. Somebody could have issues with enlarged tonsils, that can get in their way that can happen. It is more commonly an issue with younger folks and kids especially, than adults, but it can happen to anybody.

If you think about obstructive sleep apnea the sides can be an issue. The top can be an issue. When we say the top, we mean the palate and then the uvula. The uvula is the little punching bag up at the top of your throat, if you look back in the mirror. That palate area can be elongated, or redundant, which means it's just floppy and getting in your way.

So tonsils to the side, palate to the top, the uvula is just an extension of the palate, so think about that in the same context. And then at the bottom of the circle, what's at the bottom of the circle? Your tongue.

If somebody's tongue is too big for the size of the back of the throat, that can absolutely get in your way. Those issues can be in isolation, almost always they're in combination. It's very, very common for somebody to have a large base of tongue, a redundant palate and uvula, potentially some enlarged tonsils. Also a narrow throat can compromise you.

If it's one of those things, it can hurt you a little bit. If it's multiple, many of those things, it can hurt you a lot. If you are born genetically to have a tight throat, you're destined potentially for some trouble. If you you add weight onto your body, you will narrow that throat down.

There are some folks who have sleep apnea because they're too heavy. There are some folks who have sleep apnea because their airway is too tight. There are many folks who are too heavy, because their airway is tight and they never get a good night's sleep, and therefore they're always tired and always making poor choices during the day, which adds to weight gain, which that weight gain causes their airway to become more tight, you get the picture. So that, that's a really common scenario. If you talk and look and interact with our patients, you'll see folks whose airway issues have put them in a downhill spiral.

Our job is to try to identify the problem and get 'em out of that trouble. If somebody has obstructive sleep apnea, it's one of those issues. It might be a few of those issues.

We'll mention in a later session about what are our treatment options. There's a few different treatment options. The treatment options that we use are based on what we're seeing in the back of the throat. So if somebody's got a particular kind of tightness in the back of the throat that's gonna lead us in a particular direction as far as treating their issues. And of course, everybody at ADVENT knows if somebody's got a throat issue, and a sleep apnea issue because of their throat issue, they're likely gonna have a nose issue as well. We can try with all our might to treat somebody's throat issue, with a nose that's not working, but instead of that, let's try to have somebody's nose on our side and their side, versus against 'em, as a starting point, and that really does make all the difference.

ADVENT Knows When You Breathe Well, You Live Better.

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First published by ADVENT on
April 24, 2020
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Obstructive Sleep Apnea