Sleep apnea is related to obesity because excess tissue at the back of the throat increases the likelihood of airway obstruction. Therefore, it makes sense that some patients might see a reduction or even an elimination of their symptoms upon losing weight. However, in other patients sleep apnea might persist even after weight loss.
A number of factors can contribute to the conditions that cause airway obstruction that results in apneic episodes in addition to obesity. For example, a patient’s jaws or tongue may be positioned in a way that prompts the soft tissues at the back of the throat to collapse and cover the airway opening. If this is occurring in your case, an oral surgeon can design an oral appliance that is worn during sleep to hold the jaw or tongue in a more forward position.
In other cases, a surgical intervention may be needed to remove excess tissue near the airway opening in order to give a patient relief from sleep apnea.
An oral surgeon is well-suited to treat sleep apnea because the structures of the jaw are likely to contribute to the condition. These specialists have extensive expertise in the orofacial bones and how they work together thanks to their post-graduate residencies completed after graduate school.
If surgery is indicated in your case, don’t be concerned that you’ll be out of commission for too long. Patients typically recover from the procedure rather quickly, picking up their normal routines within a few days. Of course, this outcome relies on the patient’s commitment to following post-operative instructions for self-care to reduce the risk of complications.
Patients who have sleep apnea should pursue effective treatment for the condition in order to preserve their health, as serious risks of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure may be related to sleep apnea. If weight loss has not resolved your sleep apnea symptoms, contact our office to schedule a consultation to learn about other treatment options that may address the condition. Your health may depend on it!