Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome
What is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)?
Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is a sleep disorder characterized by the narrowing of the airway that can cause disruptions to sleep. UARS is caused when the upper airway narrows without closing. Consequently, airflow is either reduced or compensated for through an increase in inspiratory effects. This increased activity in inspiratory muscles leads to arousals during sleep which patients may or may not be aware of.
Learn more about UARS, how it relates to sleep apnea, and how Dr. Argyle can treat the condition with a customized, comfortable oral appliance.
Signs and Symptoms of UARS
There are a few symptoms that may indicate you’re suffering from UARS:
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Chronic insomnia
- Orthostatic intolerance (lightheadedness when standing up)
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (morning headaches, clenching or grinding the teeth, or facial muscle tension)
- Difficulty concentrating
What Causes UARS?
A typical UARS patient isn’t obese but possesses a small jaw, which can result in a smaller amount of space in the nasal airway and behind the base of the tongue. Patients may have other anatomical abnormalities that can cause UARS such as:
- Deviated septum
- Inferior turbinate hypertrophy
- A narrow hard palate that reduces the nasal volume
- Enlarged tonsils
- Nasal valve collapse
Why some patients with an airway obstruction present with UARS and not OSA is thought to be caused by alterations in nerves located in the palatal mucosa. UARS patients have largely intact and responsive nerves, while OSA patients show clear impairment and nerve damage. Functioning nerves in the palatal mucosa allow UARS patients to more effectively detect and respond to flow limitations before apneas and hypopneas can occur.
Patients with intact nerves are able to dilate the genioglossus muscle, a key compensatory mechanism utilized in the presence of airway obstruction. What damages the nerve is not definitively known, but it’s hypothesized to be caused by the long-term effects of gastroesophageal reflux and/or snoring.
Many patients with UARS experience chronic insomnia that creates both difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep. Luckily, UARS can be diagnosed by polysomnograms capable of detecting Respiratory Effort-Related Arousals (RERAs). It can be treated with lifestyle changes, oral appliance therapy, orthodontics, surgery, or CPAP therapy.
Contact Dr. Argyle for Exceptional Care
If you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, Dr. Argyle and his excellent team can provide you with an effective treatment option such as oral appliance therapy. Our custom-made oral appliances are a comfortable and convenient solution to sleep apnea and other sleep issues.
To learn more about how we can help you, contact our Syracuse practice at (801) 416-3562 or fill out our contact form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.