Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed for years, but some symptoms may include:
- Waking up often during the night
- Periodic interruptions in breathing while sleeping
- Being very tired and unable to focus during the day
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
In many cases, a sleeping partner or family member will be the first person to notice these symptoms.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can increase a person’s risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, obesity, and diabetes. It can also increase the risk, or worsen the effects, of heart failure. Sleep apnea can make the likelihood of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) more likely, and can increase a person’s risk for motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
If you suspect that you are suffering from OSA, Dr. Geist, Willis, or Fowlkes will assess your condition. The first step is to take a detailed health history, as well as gather information on your sleeping patterns. Your doctor will often use a special type of x-ray to determine the level of your obstruction. Additionally, your doctor may recommend an overnight sleep study.
Once OSA has been diagnosed, there are several treatment options. The two most conservative treatment methods include an oral appliance, which is worn at night during sleep, or a nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers pressurized oxygen through a mask to open up the airway during sleep.
Effective sleep apnea treatment can lower the patient's risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
If conservative treatment is not successful, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. A uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is used to remove tissue from the soft palate and pharynx, which widens the airway. The tonsils may also be removed. A similar treatment, LAUPPP, is performed with a soft tissue laser. For other patients, a radio-frequency probe can be used to tighten the soft palate.
Patients with more complex issues may benefit from surgical procedures such as rhinoplasty, palate surgery, or tongue advancement surgery, which increase airflow, or orthognathic surgery, which repositions the bones of the upper and lower jaw to increase the size of the patient’s airway.
Contact Us Today
Sleep apnea can have serious consequences on your health and relationships, but it is treatable. For more information on how we can help, contact our office today to make an appointment with one of our skilled doctors.