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UR Medicine / Otolaryngology (ENT) / Speech Pathology / Our Services / Obstructive Sleep Apnea


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

bed sheetsObstructive Sleep Apnea is caused by collapse of the structures of the airway most often during REM sleep. During airway collapse, hypoxia (low blood oxygen) and hypercapnia (high blood CO2) develop. These blood gas changes increase our respiratory drive until we partially awaken and upper airway re-opens, returning blood gas measurements to normal. Both the blood gas disturbance and arousal from sleep stimulate the sympathetic nervous system resulting blood pressure surges.

Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Obesity
  • Male (2-3 fold greater risk)
  • Ethnicity – Caucasian vs. African American*
  • Age
  • Nasal congestion
  • Alcohol use
  • Menopause

bed and bedside table with lampImpacts of obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Day time sleepiness
  • Motor vehicle crashes
  • Cognitive decline
  • Metabolic disease

Treatments for OSA

  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping on side
  • Decreasing alcohol consumption
  • Ensuring you can breathe through your nose
  • Continuous positive airway pressure during sleep
    • CPAP, BiPAP prescribed by your sleep medicine doctor after a formal sleep study
  • Oral Appliance to advance jaw
    • See your dentist
  • Surgery
    • Tonsil and adenoidectomy, septoplasty, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), soft palate implants, hyoid advancement, tongue advancement, tongue base reduction, lower jaw advancement, tracheotomy
  • Myofunctional Therapy with a licensed, trained professional. Speech-Language Pathologists with specialized training can provide this therapy.

Speech-Language Pathology Evaluation & Therapy

Our Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP), have specialty training and expertise OSA. The SLP will complete a personalized assessment, which includes:

  • A detailed history collection
  • A thorough examination of oral and facial muscles
  • Stimulability testing for ability to perform exercises accurately

Our SLPs can treat OSA with Myofunctional Therapy. Treatment includes:

  • A set of strengthening exercises targeting the facial and throat muscles that lose tone and cause collapse of the airway
  • Exercises are trained in 2-4 sessions with your Speech Pathologist and are performed in 10 minute sessions 2X per day.   Active therapy practice can last between 2-6 months after which, a maintenance program will be provided