Sleep apnea is a common health condition that affects millions of adults each year. For many, the sleep disorder leads to a decrease in quality of life and a decrease in day-to-day function. If you are suffering from the fatigue associated with sleep apnea, it is important to become familiar with the treatments and the disadvantages associated with tracheostomy.
As a surgical procedure that can be temporary or permanent, patients with severe sleep apnea have long been advised to undergo tracheostomy. With a small opening placed into the neck, and through the windpipe, the theory behind the effectiveness of tracheostomy lies in the ability of the patient to breath through the neck during sleep ‘” thereby avoiding mouth and nose breathing.
There are disadvantages to tracheostomy which make the surgical procedure often not a highly effective surgery for some sleep apnea patients. For starters, the surgery requires very close attention to hygiene. If the sleep apnea patient is typically not very hygienic, this type of surgical procedure can lead to additional health complications in the future. Even something as simple as using houseplants to filter allergens can lead to hygiene issues in a patient who does not pay close attention to the risks with plants and personal hygiene.
In addition to hygiene, tracheostomy surgery for sleep apnea can also cause an exacerbation in the mental health of patients who suffer from pre-existing depression. Because there is a change in bodily self image as a result of this surgery, it is not uncommon for a sleep apnea surgical patient to feel more depressed following surgery ‘” even requiring additional mental health treatment. While these feelings of depression may dissipate over time, they can be quite severe in the days and weeks after tracheostomy surgery.
Overtime, another complication seen in tracheostomy patients involves the issues with improper sealing of the seal during the day. When air leakage occurs, it can be difficult to keep the seal in place when speaking, coughing, or even sneezing. All of these factors cause nuisances that can wear on the patience of sleep apnea patient.
With the advent of the CPAP machine and CPAP therapy, it is important to consider other options to the surgical invasion of tracheostomy. If you have severe snoring or severe sleep apnea, keep in mind that tracheostomy should only be considered as a last resort for repair after other therapies have been considered. With so many complications and disadvantages, few sleep apnea patients are undergoing this type of treatment in resolving their sleep disorder.
Sources: Snoring and Sleep Apnea, by Ralph Pascualy, MD