an image of Dr. Moorhead on a talk show

Snoring seems like an ailment that affects a bed companion more than the snorer, but that's not true. Snoring can be detrimental to a person's health and sometimes is a symptom of a more significant issue - sleep apnea. 

Texas ENT's Dr. J. Cary Moorhead visited NBC's Houston Life to discuss sleep apnea, how to diagnose it, and some solutions. 

Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea and occurs when some of the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and starts to vibrate. Sleep apnea goes a little further because those tissues completely obstruct the airway, preventing a person from pulling air into the lungs. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

In the past, sleep studies were cumbersome. Patients would be monitored overnight in a sleep facility, which is not ideal for most people. Dr. Moorhead explains that sleep studies have come a long way. 

WatchPat is an at-home sleep monitoring device that patients can take home and wear while they sleep in their own beds. In the morning, sleep analytics are downloaded to an app on the patient's phone and sent to their doctor. Within a week, patients and doctors can discuss results and treatment options. 

If a patient is diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are surgical and non-surgical approaches. Dr. Moorhead explains that "the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment is still CPAP," a mask worn throughout the night to provide a continuous flow of air that keeps the tongue, uvula, and soft palate from shifting too far into the airway. Although very effective, some people find CPAPs to be uncomfortable. 

Another non-surgical treatment is a dental appliance that pushes the jaw forward to open the airway. These devices help people with mild types of sleep apnea. 

As far as surgical procedures go, the newest device, the Inspire implant, works like a pacemaker. It's implanted under the skin, and a lead attaches to a nerve on the tongue. The device is turned on with a remote control, which sends a signal to muscles in the throat to open the airway, preventing it from collapsing. 

If you suffer from snoring and suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact your Texas ENT office to discuss sleep testing today. 

Learn more about Dr. J. Cary Moorhead

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