Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome
As awareness grows for sleep apnea and specifically the most common type obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), few know about another sleep disorder known as upper airway resistance syndrome or UARS. In 1982, this condition was first discovered and defined as a sleep disorder in children with adults added to the pool of sufferers 11 years later.
With OSA, the individual has lapses in breathing due to an obstruction in his or her airway during the night. People with UARS labor to breathe due to a resistance in airway pressure. In order to assist the UARS sufferer to breathe, chest muscles and the diaphragm work harder than normal. As the night goes on and UARS individuals move into the various stages of sleep, their airway becomes more and more restricted. When trying to muster enough power to inhale proves too difficult, the person with UARS wakes up and arousal occurs. As a result UARS is also known as respiratory-effort related arousal (RERA).
The two diseases, sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome, are somewhat similar in the fact that both cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. And if left untreated, both conditions can result in high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, many people with UARS are misdiagnosed and suspected of having a variety of other problems such as chronic fatigue syndrome, attention deficit disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. The most accurate way to diagnose UARS is with an invasive special type of study known as a pneumotachograph that analyzes air flow and resistance in the upper airway. A sleep study will not be as beneficial for diagnosis. Since the UARS sufferer’s airway is not obstructed, oxygen blood saturation levels remain in the normal range. However, some sleep labs are familiar with UARS and can be on the lookout for pressure changes in the nose.
UARS Treatment Options
If the resistance in airflow is low and due to an issue in the nose, some relief of the condition can occur simply by using nasal strips. At any rate, other options range from conservative and non-invasive (nasal dilator such as Nozovent, nasal continuous positive airway pressure, oral appliances and weight loss) to invasive surgery.
If you have been wondering whether or not you have UARS or sleep apnea, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation when it’s convenient for you.