Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that makes it hard for sufferers to breathe at night. This kind of disrupted sleep results in low oxygen levels and constant fatigue and is associated with medical problems, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can affect your quality of life. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have sleep apnea and should see your doctor:
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Headaches upon waking
- High blood pressure
- Loud snoring
- Observed episodes of stopped breathing while sleeping
- Trouble focusing and concentrating
- Memory problems
- Waking up exhausted, even after a whole night of sleep
- Waking up with dry mouth or sore throat
- Irritability, depression, or mood swings
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
There are different kinds of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep-related breathing disorder. It happens when the throat muscles relax, causing either the airway to collapse or the tongue to be sucked against the back of the throat blocking the airway. Airflow stops and remains that way until their oxygen level sinks low enough to cause a partial awakening. Usually, the person gasps, and the obstruction in the throat clears, starting the air flow again. People with excessive daytime fatigue are at risk of falling asleep while driving or operating other machinery.
Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea, your oral surgeon will examine your medical history and physical examination and may order a sleep study. Certain groups of people are more at risk for developing sleep apnea, including older men, people who are overweight, smokers, and those who have immediate family members with obstructive sleep apnea. Certain physical features are also associated with obstructive sleep apnea, such as large tonsils, excess fat around the throat, a small lower jaw or lower jaw positioned further back, or a tongue enlarged at the base.
A sleep study may be conducted at home or in a sleep laboratory where the patient spends the night. Various body functions, such as heart rate, breathing, and movement, and how long it takes to enter different stages of sleep will be measured and recorded.
Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Some patients with sleep apnea find relief through oral devices worn while sleeping that help reduce snoring. Others may have to sleep with a machine that helps keep breathing airways open at night, known as a CPAP machine.
Severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea may require surgery to enlarge the airway by tightening or removing structures in the throat. The jaw can be surgically repositioned if necessary or the nasal passages unblocked. A relatively new procedure called LAUP involves removing part or all of the uvula and some of the soft palate to reduce snoring. Consult an oral surgeon to find out if you have the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and the best treatment for you.
Our South Jersey Oral Surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Treat Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea
At Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons, we have helped many patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Schedule a consultation with one of our South Jersey oral surgeons today. Call us at 856-582-4222 or contact us online. Located in Washington Township, Haddonfield, and Woolwich Township, New Jersey, we offer sleep apnea solutions to patients throughout South Jersey.