What is obstructive sleep apnea?

sleep apnea RichmondObstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway opening is blocked repeatedly while the patient is asleep. The patient stops breathing – albeit very briefly – over and over again throughout the night. Although the patient typically is not aware of these apneic episodes when they occur, sleep apnea manifests itself in symptoms like daytime drowsiness, frequent headaches or sore throats upon wakening and loud snoring.

Fortunately, effective treatment is available for sleep apnea, and it’s important to pursue this path. Sleep apnea has been linked with serious consequences like heart disease, stroke and even sudden death, not to mention the negative effects on your quality of life.

One particularly effective intervention is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask. This mask forces air into the nasal passages to ensure that the patient has a consistent supply of oxygen. Unfortunately, however, these CPAP masks are quite cumbersome and many patients find them more disruptive to sleep than the sleep apnea is.

If a CPAP isn’t a good fit for you, you can consult with an oral surgeon to learn about other treatment options.

Certain factors in your physiology may be contributing to the airway obstruction. For example, excess tissue at the rear of the throat can easily collapse and block the airway. An oral surgeon will want to remove that tissue if that is the case.

Similarly, the positioning of your jaw or narrow nasal passages can influence sleep apnea, so surgery to treat this condition may target these aspects of your facial structures, as well.

Most surgical interventions to address sleep apnea can be performed in an outpatient setting with appropriate sedation. Many patients will be able to resume their normal routines relatively shortly after the procedure, as well.

Obstructive sleep apnea can have dangerous effects, so if you’re experiencing symptoms of this condition, schedule a sleep study to confirm your diagnosis. Then contact our office to learn about your treatment options to relieve your symptoms.