What is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)?


Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is a condition similar to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the way that airflow is interrupted as you sleep. However, UARS isn’t as severe as OSA and is classified somewhere between snoring and sleep apnea. Whereas someone afflicted with OSA can stop breathing altogether for several seconds, those with UARS experience disrupted sleep due to difficulty breathing. Anatomical differences in a person’s throat is typically the culprit.


It’s important to recognize what could be causing your UARS as well as the symptoms, as these will help your doctor decide what medical treatments will work best for you.


Causes of UARS


There is a wide range of causes of UARS, including:


  • Narrowed airways
  • Loose or relaxed fatty tissue in the throat collapses
  • Your tongue falls to the back of the throat and blocks your airway
  • Narrowed area between the uvula and soft palate
  • Narrowed area between the uvula and epiglottis
  • Obesity, though many people with UARS have normal BMIs too
  • Being a woman, especially if you’re premenopausal or perimenopausal
  • Regular use of alcohol and sedative medications


UARS Symptoms


Symptoms of UARS include:


  • Fatigue
  • Snoring
  • Daytime exhaustion
  • Disrupted or poor sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Feeling tired even after getting enough sleep
  • Problems with memory and/or concentration
  • Morning headaches
  • Signs of depression
  • Waking up at night for no real reason
  • Low quality of life due to restless sleep
  • Difficulty breathing while sleeping on your back


Like OSA, sometimes UARS is difficult to diagnose because people tend to attribute many of these symptoms to everyday life, such as stress, work, or other responsibilities.


Available UARS Treatments


It’s best to begin treatment of UARS as soon as it is diagnosed. Treatment options include:


  • Surgery - when patients don’t find success in using CPAP, or refuse to use it, surgery to make your airway larger may then be recommended.
  • Oral appliances - there are certain devices you can wear during sleep that help prevent the tissue of your airway from collapsing. Some of these devices control the position of your tongue and/or jaw to keep your airway open.
  • Orthodontic treatment - the use of mandibular advancement devices or rapid maxillary distraction can change the position of your lower jaw and reduce symptoms of UARS.
  • Positive airway pressure (PAP) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) - by wearing a special mask while you sleep, a machine will gently emit pressurized air into your upper airway through a tube connected to the mask. The air pressure helps keep your airway open, allowing for normal breathing.


Contact Our Office Today


While UARS is not life threatening, it can cause other serious health complications such as cardiovascular issues, increased blood pressure, and metabolic conditions. Furthermore, if UARS is left untreated, it can become sleep apnea. If you recognize symptoms of UARS, call our office today to schedule an appointment with the doctor. Only by seeing a medical professional can your UARS be properly addressed with treatment that suits your unique needs.

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