The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center gives you many reasons to sleep well at night.

Between seven and nine hours of sleep are needed each night for most adults, according to sleep experts. Sleep disorders cause “sleep debt” that can result in serious consequences: vehicular crashes and increased risk for heart attack, stroke and obesity to name a few.

Nearly 40 million American men and women suffer from sleep disorders, according to the National Sleep Foundation. One of the most common is sleep apnea, a breathing disorder characterized by brief but repetitive interruptions of breathing during sleep. It may be an underlying cause of heart disease. Researchers believe lack of oxygen during sleep apnea can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can stress your heart and increase the amount of sugar in your blood. Sleep apnea can worsen existing cardiovascular disease.

Some signs of a sleep disorder are:

  • Difficulty falling asleep, waking up and not being able to fall back asleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Snoring that interrupts breathing or wakes you up
  • Waking feeling unrefreshed

Our ENT and sleep subspecialists work together with other specialists to provide you with a targeted diagnosis and safe, effective treatment. In fact, the sleep medicine and cardiology researchers at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center were the first to evaluate the impact of common sleep disorders on heart failure patients.

Why Ohio State?

Since we are an academic medical center, the latest research, technology and procedures are often more immediately available to our patients. We offer treatments from non-invasive and relatively simple sleep improvement procedures, like removal of tonsils, to the latest FDA-approved technology. This includes upper airway stimulation – an implantable pacemaker for the hypoglossal nerve (nerve that is associated with the tongue) – which syncs a pulse with every breath taken at night to prevent the tongue from blocking airways in obstructive sleep apnea patients. 

OSU Wexner Medical Center is recognized by U.S.News & World Report one of the nation’s best hospitals for care of the ear, nose and throat.


Nasal congestion

Swelling or blockage in the nasal tissue can cause congestion. There are various conditions that can lead to inflammation or blockage that cause congestion. Some of them are:

  • Allergies 
  • Viral infection
  • Environmental irritants (pollen, dust, animal dander, etc.)
  • Nasal polyps 
  • Sinusitis 
  • Tumors (abnormal growths)

Depending on the underlying condition, nasal congestion treatment ranges from avoiding allergens to using medications, including steroid and antihistamine nasal sprays.


The sound of snoring is caused by tissues at the top of your airway that strike each other and vibrate. Snoring is common, especially among older people and people who are overweight.

Snoring can be a sign of a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. You should see your healthcare provider if you are often tired during the day, don’t feel that you sleep well or wake up gasping for air.

To reduce snoring:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight – it may help (but thin people can snore, too)
  • Cut down or avoid alcohol and other sedatives at bedtime
  • Don’t sleep flat on your back

Source: National Institute on Aging

Tests and Treatments

Hyoid myotomy and suspension

For obstructive sleep apnea patients who don’t tolerate their CPAP (air mask to aid breathing while sleeping), surgery may be a good option. By evaluating the airway from the nose down to the lungs, your surgeon can determine if you are a good candidate for a hyoid myotomy and suspension, which involves pulling forward the hyoid bone to prevent the base of the tongue collapse while sleeping.

The hyoid bone is found above the cartilage in your throat known as the Adam’s apple. In hyoid myotomy and suspension, the hyoid bone is advanced forward and secured to the jaw bone or mandible. This helps stabilize this section of the airway to re-establish airflow.

Pillar implants

This procedure consists of inserting implants (small rod-like objects made of braided suture material) into the soft palate of your mouth. It helps relieve snoring and mild sleep apnea. This is done to help keep that area of the palate rigid so that it doesn’t collapse during sleep and contribute to snoring or sleep apnea. This method is an alternative to tissue removal and other surgical procedures. It may be done under local anesthesia in the office or combined with other surgical procedures in the operating room.


Septoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes an obstruction of the nasal septum that can cause breathing issues and contribute to sleep apnea.

The surgeon makes an incision on either side of the septum to remove or reposition cartilage or bone that is causing the blockage. This outpatient procedure is usually done under a general anesthetic and takes about one hour to complete.

Sleep study

Sleep studies are used to diagnose potential sleep disorders. These studies measure your body’s responses during a night’s sleep and your overall quality of sleep. Your sleeping behavior is monitored overnight at OSU Wexner Medical Center in a hotel-style room. Often, the study is used to confirm if you have sleep apnea, and the information about your condition it provides is critical to your diagnosis and treatment. OSU Wexner Medical Center specialists may also use follow-up sleep studies to determine your response to treatment. 

Tongue suspension

A frequent level of obstruction during sleep apnea is the base of tongue. Tongue suspension pulls the tongue muscles forward. This decreases the severity of displacement into the throat, clearing the airway. Other procedures, such as suspension or hyoid myotomy, permanent suture through base of tongue, are usually conducted along with tongue suspension for greater results.

Turbinate reduction

Inside the walls of the nose are pairs of long, thin bones called turbinates. Allergies or other conditions can inflame the turbinates, causing them to block airflow. Surgery is used to remove part of the turbinate to improve breathing. Radiofrequency or laser technique may also be used to shrink the turbinate tissue. The surgery is usually performed under a general anesthetic using an endoscope (lighted camera) that is inserted in the nose.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty and anterior palatoplasty

The objective of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, also known as UP3 surgery, is to remove the tonsils, uvula and part of the soft palate to correct sleep apnea. This type of procedure is usually recommended when patients are not able to tolerate their CPAP (air mask to aid breathing while sleeping), or if enlarged tonsils and uvula are the cause of obstruction.

Expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty (ESP) is a variation of the UP3, used in selected circumstances.

The anterior palatoplasty is a “mini-UP3” that can be used to correct mild obstructive sleep apnea or primary snoring. Surgery is usually done under a general anesthetic.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) intolerance

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a medical mask that pushes air into your nose and/or mouth when you sleep to treat sleep apnea. Common problems with CPAP include air leaks, difficulty falling asleep and a dry mouth or nose. There are many CPAP options that can solve these issues. Some come with gradual air release and even heated humidification. Of course, you can always rely on other treatments if CPAP doesn’t work out for you.

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