Sleep apnea can have a detrimental impact on a sufferer's quality of life. The sleep disorder often goes undiagnosed and can impact mood and concentration, as well as increase your risk for several very serious health conditions. Dr. Eric Geist, Dr. Richard D. Willis, and Dr. Matthew W. Fowlkes offer diagnosis and sleep apnea treatment at our Monroe, LA, practice. We will work with you to determine the optimal treatment option, which in some cases, may include surgery.
Defining Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition which causes the tongue or other soft tissues to block the upper airway during sleep. This obstruction restricts airflow and causes low oxygen levels in the brain. When these levels dip low enough, the person wakens, the obstruction clears, and airflow starts again, usually with a loud gasp or snort.
This process can occur many times throughout the night and greatly affect your quality of sleep, causing excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration, and depression. The repeated cycles of low oxygen levels can also lead to serious cardiovascular problems.
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. One of the first, most conservative treatments that is typically recommended is 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.