What Is the Obstruction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea and How Is It Treated?

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Obstructive sleep apnea has been in the news lately. Many new products have been introduced that help sleepers breathe normally. This reduces snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in Surrey. While many people understand what sleep apnea is, they’re not clear on what constitutes an obstruction. Here’s an explanation.

What Is the Obstruction in Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

An obstruction is something that blocks the normal flow of something else. You see it with dams blocking the normal flow of a river or lake. In the case of
sleep apnea
, the obstruction is the tongue.

How Does It Work?

The mouth consists of teeth and gums, of course, but also fleshy constituents. The tongue, uvula (the flap at the back of the mouth,) and the soft palate are the actors in the sleep apnea play. When a sleeper is asleep, he or she breathes in. In an ideal play, the air would pass through the mouth and into the body and brain.

In the obstructive sleep apnea play, the tongue, uvula, and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat. No air passes through, which starves the brain of oxygen. The brain kicks in with orders to the mouth and throat to breathe. In most cases, this occurs up to 100 times per night.

How Is It Treated?

Up to recently, the positive airway pressure, or CPAP machine, was the only treatment available. It consists of a mask over the nose and mouth hooked to a machine gently blowing air into the sleeper’s mouth and nose. The sleeper has nothing collapsing onto his or her throat.

More than 100 oral appliances have been okayed by the FDA for obstructive sleep apnea in Surrey. They’re worn like a sports guard or an orthodontic appliance. They keep the jaw pushed forward so that the tongue, uvula, and soft palate don’t collapse onto the throat. They’re quieter and easier to wear than the CPAP machine.

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