Dennis Thompson M.D., FACS | Stephen Bovenkerk, D.O. | Cathleen Burns, Certified Audiologist M.A., CCC-A, FAAA

Lake Michigan Sinus and Sleep Apnea Center

Dr. Thompson, Dr. Bovenkerk and our staff concentrate on the state-of-the-art management of problems of the nose and sinuses as well as snoring and sleep apnea.

You may have sinus trouble for a number of reasons. Sinusitis occurs when the mucous membranes lining the facial sinuses become inflamed. This inflammation is often caused by a bacterial infection, although viruses, fungi, allergies and air pollution can also cause irritation.

A lot of people mistake a particularly bad cold for sinusitis. Many of the symptoms are the same, including headache or face pain, a nasty runny nose and nasal congestion. If you have allergies, asthma, physical abnormalities in the nose or sinuses, or a compromised immune system, you are at greater risk.

Common symptoms of sinusitis include:
  • Postnasal drip
  • Stuffiness
  • Congestion
  • Tenderness of the face (particularly under the eyes or at the bridge of the nose)
  • Coughing
  • Pain in the teeth
  • Pressure headaches
  • Fever

Sinusitis can be accompanied by any combination of symptoms. For example, you may have tenderness in the face without fever or coughing.

What to do
If you experience symptoms like these, make an appointment with one of our physicians to find out the exact cause of your sinus trouble. They can examine your throat, nose and sinuses and order any necessary tests to determine the best course of treatment.

Both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Bovenkerk are excited about the new minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty technique they are now offering.

Snoring, and the more serious sleep apnea, occurs when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose, where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing.

Snoring can be caused by the physical structure or deformities of your throat and sinuses, such as having a deviated septum, narrower passage of the upper throat or a long soft palette that flutters during relaxed breathing. Other causes include a stuffy or blocked nose from a cold or allergies, alcohol or drugs, being overweight, large tonsils and adenoids or even cysts or tumors.

Health concerns
Snoring disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives you of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems such as:

  • Bed wetting in children
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Raised heart rate and blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Appetite problems
  • Trouble with critical thinking
  • Discolored and misaligned teeth in children
  • ADD-like symptoms in children
Sleep apnea
When loud snoring is interrupted by frequent episodes of totally obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Serious episodes last more than 10 seconds each and occur more than seven times per hour. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may experience 30 to 300 such events per night. These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing your heart to pump harder.

The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that you must sleep lightly and keep your muscles tense in order to keep airflow to your lungs. Because you donít get a good rest, you may be sleepy during the day, which impairs your job performance and makes you a hazardous driver or equipment operator. After many years with this disorder, elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.

What to do
Remember, snoring means obstructed breathing, and obstruction can be serious. Make an appointment with Dr. Thompson or Dr. Bovenkerk for a thorough examination of your nose, mouth, throat, palate and neck, possibly including a sleep study in a laboratory environment to determine how serious your snoring or sleep apnea is and what effects it has on your health.

One treatment, called the Pillar Procedure, may help you stop snoring by reinforcing your soft palate. Completed in a single, short office visit, this simple, minimally invasive procedure gives most patients a noticeable and lasting reduction in snoring. Three tiny woven inserts are placed in the soft palate to help reduce the vibration that causes snoring and the ability of the soft palate to obstruct the airway.

Our physicians will conduct a physical exam to determine if your palate is the likely cause of your sleep apnea or snoring and if you are a good candidate for the Pillar Procedure.

Lake Michigan Sinus and Sleep topics on this page


What to do

Health concerns
Sleep apnea
What to do

Sleep information

National Sleep Foundation
Michiana Regional Sleep Disorders Center

2680 S. Cleveland Avenue • St. Joseph, MI 49085 • 269-982-3368