Sleep Disorders

Snoring is commonly caused by the vibrating movement of the uvula and the soft palate that is located in the roof of the mouth.  The uvula is the tear drop shaped tissue that hangs down from the middle of the soft palate.  When a person sleeps, the uvula and the soft palate relax and vibrating movements occur, causing the snoring sound. Although snoring is not harmful, patients that snore may also suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea IS a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times.  This means that the brain may not be getting enough oxygen.  There are two types of sleep apnea; Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the more common of the two and is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.  With Central Sleep Apnea, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breath due to instability in the respiratory control center. A sleep test, or polysomnography (PSG), is required to make a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Treatment options differ in children versus adults, with children being more likely to benefit from surgery such as removal of the tonsils and adenoids. A breathing machine called CPAP or BiPAP is the primary treatment in adults.