An estimated 25 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea. At Dr. Ghatan Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Ocean Parkway, Midwood of Brooklyn, New York, seasoned dermatologist and dermatological surgeon, Eliot Y. Ghatan, MD, FRCPC, offers fruitful solutions for sleep apnea to improve your sleep quality and your quality of life. If you’re experiencing the concerning symptoms of sleep apnea, such as excessive daytime fatigue and loud snoring, call Dr. Ghatan Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery or book online.
What is sleep apnea?
Does everyone who snores have sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is characterized by frequent pauses or breaks in breathing. But not all snoring is sleep apnea. There are genetic factors that come to play, nasal congestion, and sleeping position can also contribute to sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing repeatedly starts and stops during your sleep. This disorder often prevents you from reaching the deeper stages of your sleep cycle that are highly beneficial for your general health. Sleep apnea is common, and can affect people of all ages, including children.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea that involves the temporary relaxation of your throat muscles, such as your tongue and soft palate. Relaxed throat muscles can narrow or close your airway and inhibit breathing.
When you can’t get enough air supply, it can decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood. Your brain detects your difficulty breathing and quickly wakes you from your sleep so you can open your airway.
About 80% of sleep apnea goes undiagnosed. If sleep apnea isn’t properly treated, it can increase the risk of conditions like stroke and heart disease. Sleep apnea is also linked to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can come along with a plethora of symptoms, such as:
- Poor sleep quality
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Loud snoring
- Excessive fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Shortness of breath when waking
Breaks or pauses in breathing while sleeping: If you feel that your breathing is pausing often, it can be a symptom of the disease. In obstructive sleep apnea, where breathing is interrupted by a physical blockage in the air passage to your body, the fatty tissues of the tongue or the throat relax. This prevents the airflow into your body causing you to stop breathing for a few seconds. As a result, the oxygen level in your blood drops because of which your brain wakes itself up to jump start your respiratory system into working properly again. However, although your brain wakes up, you remain partially awake without realizing that you are awake, thus leading to disturbed sleep or snoring.
Sleep interruption can happen anywhere from 5-30 times or more in a single hour. Many people don’t recall the interruptions.
Waking up with headaches: Patients often complain of headaches. Since they stop breathing at regular intervals, less oxygen reaches the brain. The low level of oxygen causes widening of the blood vessels resulting in headaches. Because of lack of a good night’s sleep, one may have daytime drowsiness.
High Blood Pressure: Hypertension is closely linked to sleep apnea. The reason can be same as that of a headache. Since due to frequent pauses in the breath, the oxygen level into the blood vessels goes down leading to increased blood pressure. And while this happens constantly at night, the body gets used to the high blood pressure, and that remains even while you breathe normally during the day.
Overweight: A person’s body weight has a lot to do with the disease. People with higher weight are prone to this disorder than people with healthier weights. Excessive fatty tissue in the neck and throat can cause the tissues to fall back and block the airway. This causes obstruction and leads to sleep apnea.
Neck size: If the neck circumference of a man is greater than 17 inches and a woman is more than 16 inches, there is a higher risk of sleep apnea.
Irritation, mood swings and depression: The lack of sleep is known to lead to irritation, mood swings and even depression. Sleep apnea is implicated as one of the contributors to Alzheimer’s disease.
What causes sleep apnea?
There isn’t a cut and dry cause of sleep apnea, but there are various risk factors that might play a role, such as:
- A narrowed airway
- Nasal congestion and allergies
- Sedatives and alcohol
Sleep apnea appears more commonly in men.
What is the newest treatment for sleep apnea?
Dr. Ghatan provides the Nightase® (Fontana) laser treatment — a non-invasive laser treatment that works by decreasing the amplitude of snoring and opening your airway.
Using a special probe, Dr. Ghatan delivers laser energy to heat the tissues in precise places in your mouth to help widen the opening, reduce the sound of snoring, and lessen the effects of sleep apnea.
NightLase is simple, safe, non-invasive, and effective. There’s no downtime, no anesthesia, and no need to wear a device while you sleep (studies have shown that 40% of people with sleep apnea did not wear devices at night. There is evidence that even if you are using the sleep mask, there still is impaired oxidation in the brain). The laser energy is gentle and safe enough to be used on sensitive tissue inside your mouth.
With NightLase there are 3-4 separate treatment sessions that take place over a 6-9-week period. Each treatment session takes about 20 minutes. Your final treatment results can last up to a year or more. This is not a permanent treatment, but the therapy can be repeated.
Dr. Ghatan might also suggest certain lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, nutrition, exercise, weight loss, and stress management.
Fotona’s NightLase® therapy is a non-invasive, patient-friendly laser treatment for increasing the quality of a patient’s sleep. Nightlase utilizes gentle power of laser on sensitive tissue inside the mouth to heat up the tissue causing tightening which leads to a reduction in the sounds of the patient’s snoring and a lessening of the effects of sleep apnea. The laser works on the collagen that got older, flappy and soft to rejuvenate it and regenerate new collagen.
Simple, Safe and Effective
Fotona’s patented Er:YAG laser modality optimizes the length of laser pulses, allowing for the safe penetration of heat into the oral mucosa tissue. It is gentle enough to be used on the sensitive tissue inside the mouth, but strong enough to provide clinically efficacious heating.
Nightlase has a high success rate (about 80%) in producing a positive change in sleep patterns. Research has shown that NightLase reduces and attenuates snoring and provides an effective, non-invasive way to lessen the effects of sleep apnea.
A Patient Friendly Solution
Patients find NightLase to be a highly comfortable and satisfying solution. NightLase requires no device (CPAP or sleep mask) to be worn during sleep and involves no chemical treatment. It’s a gentle and easy way for patients to regain a good night’s rest. Patients can return to their everyday routine immediately. No special care or therapy after laser treatment is needed. The final results last up to a year.