Dr. Steckowych addresses a crooked nasal septum by opening up and disarticulating all of its parts. She usually does not remove the cartilaginous part of the septum, but instead removes any bone along the floor of the nose or the posterior nose, and then resets the cartilage in the midline. This leads to a better airway since the floor of the nose is addressed, and with the cartilage intact, the risk of a hole in the septum is almost completely eliminated.
People with sleep apnea stop breathing while they sleep, sometimes hundreds of times per night, and sometimes for a minute or longer. With normal breathing, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures, such as the soft palate, uvula and tongue, in the back of the throat. When awake, the muscles hold this airway open. When asleep, these muscles relax, but the airway should remain open. In those who suffer from sleep apnea, the upper airway is blocked, causing oxygen levels to drop in both the brain and the blood.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
While sleeping, the airway in the throat may become partially or fully blocked, which may be caused by the following:
- Large tongue and tonsils compared to the opening in the windpipe
- Cardiovascular problems
- Throat and tongue muscles that are much more relaxed than normal
- Aging, which may limit the brain's ability to keep throat muscles stiff during sleep
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat closes, blocking or obstructing the airway.
Central Sleep Apnea
The airway remains open in central sleep apnea, but the brain does not send signals to the muscles involved in breathing.
Mixed Sleep Apnea
Mixed sleep apnea combines aspects of the obstructive and central types of apnea. A common warning sign of sleep apnea is snoring, especially when it is interspersed with gasps or lack of breathing.
Swallowing & Voice Disorders
Though we often take our ability to eat and speak for granted, many people have difficulty with these tasks and may experience pain, discomfort and lack of control when trying to speak. Swallowing is a very complex bodily function, requiring the active response of several nerves and muscles, two muscular valves, and the esophagus, or swallowing tube. The swallowing process follows a long path from the mouth to the stomach, and is vital to gastrointestinal health.
Causes of Swallowing and Voice Disorders
Voice and swallowing problems, or dysphagia, can develop as a result of a wide number of conditions:
- Overuse or sudden injury, such as stroke
- Lifestyle conditions such as drinking and smoking
- Esophageal narrowing, such as those caused by acid reflux
- Progressive neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease
- Medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or scleroderma
These conditions may lead to a range of swallowing and voice problems, which may require the consultation with either an otolaryngologist who specializes in ear, nose and throat or a gastroenterologist.