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Survey finds that sinus surgery helps people suffering from sleep apnea

Scientists find sinus surgery helps people who suffer from both sinus problems and sleep apnea, but for now the link between the two conditions remains unclear.

A recent study found that surgery to clear up clogged sinuses also helped patients who were also suffering from chronic sleep apnea get a better night’s sleep. Now, researchers who examined survey data have found that sinus problems and sleep apnea may be linked, and that sinus surgery can help some address their sleeping problems.

Breathing-linked sleeping disorders are no small issue either, and sleep apnea has emerged as a major problem for people in the United States and across the world. It is estimated that as many as 42 million Americans suffering from varying degrees of sleep apnea. Nearly 10 percent of women and one quarter of men suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea occurs when a patient’s breathing airways become blocked and he or she stops breathing for a short period of time. Often, the airways become blocked when the tongue and other muscles become too relaxed and cut off airways. Once airways become blocked off, many patients end up snoring and gasping for breath.

As a result, many people who suffer from sleep apnea simply don’t get a good night’s sleep. Daytime fatigue is common for those who suffer from sleep apnea. Further, a poor night’s sleep has been linked numerous other things, including weakened immune systems, decreased work performance, and even marriage problems.

Researchers discovered the link between sinuses, sinus surgery, and sleep apnea after they surveyed some 400 patients who had recently underwent surgery to relieve their sinuses. Of those 400, 60 patients were found to have suffered from sleep apnea before undergoing surgery on their sinuses.

These survey subjects, however, actually reported that they experience substantial improvements in their sleep behaviours after undergoing surgery. Reduced snoring, more energy, and better mental capacities were reported among many of the patients who had opted to undergo surgery.

Generally, sleeping people will breath through its nose. If the nasal passages becomes blocked, the body switches to breathing through the mouth. Unfortunately, while a closed mouth will generally keep the tongue in place, once the mouth is opened, the tongue has more freedom to move. For people with sleep apnea, the tongue often blocks breathing passages, causing the person to briefly stop breathing, or to suffer from strained breathing, which can result in that ever awakening snore.

Snoring might seem like a nuisance, but it is actually a major problem. Once a person begins snoring, he or she may not be able to enter as deep a state of sleep and may be prone to waking up, even if only for a few seconds. Further partners in bed might try to reposition or wake the snoring person. Snoring can reduce the quality of sleep not just of the person suffering from sleep apnea, but anyone who sleeps close enough to said person to hear it.

Surgery, however, helps clear up the nasal passages and thus could prevent the mouth from ever opening. Of course, at this point there is no proof that surgery would benefit people without sinus problems.

Sleep apnea is becoming an increasing problem for many countries due to the rise in obesity. For various reasons, obesity tends to lead to an increased incidents of sleep apnea, so as countries grow fatter, more people are finding their breathing passages blocked while sleeping.

This isn’t merely a health and well-being issue either. Sleep apnea could result in lost economic growth as people who suffer from the condition tend to be less productive at work. People who suffer from drowsiness at work, which can be caused by sleeping disorders, are generally less productive. Those who suffered from sleep apnea also reported an increased likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel, which increases the risk of serious car accidents.