What is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) & Why should I be concerned?

To determine if you should be concerned about UARS, ask yourself a few simple questions:
When you go to bed and sleep a reasonable number of hours, do you wake up and feel like you haven’t slept at all?
Have you spent an entire night in sleep (or so you thought) only to feel more tired in the morning than when you went to bed?
Do you suspect a breathing problem but your partner does not hear the gasping, choking or severe snoring commonly associated with sleep apnea?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be a victim of Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome and Dr. Karen may be able to help you gain that restful, peaceful and regenerative sleep you so desire and need for a healthy body.

What do people with Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) experience?
As part of your natural sleep cycle, the muscles of your airway become relaxed. (Many prospective UARS patients have an airway that's already  restricted or reduced in size.)  As you slip into your sleep pattern and your airway relaxes, your airway becomes further reduced and your breathing becomes labored and difficult. Imagine attempting to sip an extra thick milkshake through a straw - it is very difficult and the straw collapses even further in size. As this occurs, you can barely breathe and your body begins to awaken in an effort to overcome the problem. As you awaken, your airway opens up and you begin breathing again. At this point, you begin to go back to sleep whereupon your airway constricts and your breathing flow decreases. You once again begin to wake up in order to breathe. This is the UARS cycle and it can happen over and over during the night without you or your partner ever knowing its happening.

It is this constant sleep/awake/sleep/awake/sleep sequence that leaves you feeling exhausted after what should be a refreshing night's sleep.

What are some UARS symptoms?

  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Difficulty maintaining focus and concentration
  • Morning headaches
  • Snoring
  • Frequent awakening and difficulty falling back asleep
  • GERD (Reflux)
  • Bruxism (clenching or grinding of teeth)
  • TMJ (jaw) pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Leg Cramps
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Thyroid Problems

Why don’t I hear more about UARS?
UARS is actually new to the medical field. Many doctors are not familiar with the UARS problem and sleep clinics do not employ techniques capable of identifying the subtle changes in UARS breathing rhythms. UARS might not even show up in many of today’s sleep disorder breathing tests.

But there is hope! A special sleep study test that that uses a probe measuring esophageal pressure during sleep is recognized as the best diagnostic tool. In addition, there are take-home oxygen monitors that can help screen for a sleep disorder.

Can Dr. Karen treat my UARS?
Yes. Dr. Karen will create a custom-fit oral appliance that looks and feels very similar to a retainer or a sports mouthguard. The appliance is to be worn while you sleep and is designed to keep your airways open in order to prevent the sleeplessness of UARS. We find that with proper compliance, most patients begin to experience the restful sleep they need.

If you suspect you could be suffering from UARS,

please take a moment to call Dr. Karen at 757.842.4308