Sleep physicians can identify and correct mouth breathing in their patients.
Sometimes we do not think about a disease until it becomes overwhelming. This is especially true when the symptoms are relatively mild, have an unclear origin, or a very gradual onset. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a good example of this sort of disease; people will often live with OSA symptoms for years before seeking medical attention.
It is important to identify risk factors for diseases like OSA; some will be causal factors, and they may be crucial to effective treatments and even cures. Obesity is probably the most well-known OSA risk factor, but others clearly exist, such as hypertension and smoking.
Less well recognized is how nasal obstruction is a risk factor for OSA. And unlike other contributors to OSA, nasal obstruction is often amenable to treatment. Even when not contributing to OSA, nasal congestion can worsen subjective sleep quality in our patients. What’s more, nasal obstruction can be a major challenge for the treatment of OSA, so it is important to recognize and manage it in all of sleep-disordered breathing patients.
In this article, I will discuss nasal obstruction as a risk factor for OSA, as a barrier to the treatment of OSA, and how sleep medicine specialists can best address it for OSA patients. By treating our patient’s nasal obstruction, we can improve their sleep, adherence to positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, and improve their quality of life...
Read the full article here.
Brian D. Robertson, MD, is chief of sleep medicine service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and a pediatrician, allergist, and sleep medicine specialist with the US Army.
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