Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome

Upper airway resistance syndrome is difficult for many doctors to diagnosis. Few sleep testing centers even have the proper test equipment to recognize the illness. Mt. Scott does, and is quite familiar with this syndrome that until recently has been little understood by the medical community. Upper airway resistance syndrome occurs during sleep when the muscles of the throat’s airway become relaxed and this relaxation overly reduces the diameter of the airway causing breathing to become labored. While this does not lead to full cessation of airflow (like with sleep apnea), it is a serious condition that can result in an abnormal sleep patterns, daytime sleepiness, and other more serious effects which are also currently being studied.

Symptoms of upper airway resistance syndrome include snoring, sleepwalking (in some), and excessive sleepiness during the daytime. Hypertension has also been found to likely to be present. To test for upper airway resistance syndrome, a sleep study or polysomnography is recommended including a specialized measurement of Pes (esophageal pressure) that is available at Mt. Scott’s complete sleep center facilities.

Treatment for upper airway resistance syndrome is often the same as that for obstructive sleep apnea. This may include first trying less invasive measures such as diet changes and sleep pattern changes, or use of CPAP equipment, or use of specialized oral appliances which serve to protrude the tongue and jaw forward thus reducing the airway resistance.

Surgical options including uvulopalatopharyngoplasty and linguloplasty to increase the dimensions of the airway and to reduce the amount the airway collapses are also available and effective. At Mt. Hood we have found that most patients usually respond to treatment well and upper airway resistance syndrome is eminently treatable.