What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway, and air flow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens so the obstruction in the throat clears and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.

Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.

Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, the individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treated?

The first step in treatment resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons offer consultation and treatment options. A multi-step approach is used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The first step would involve the evaluation and diagnosis of the severity of the disease. This involves a sleep specialist who performs a complete history and physical followed by a monitored sleep study.

In addition to the detailed history and sleep study, one of our oral and maxillofacial surgeons will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull X-ray) analysis, the doctors can ascertain the level of obstruction. Sometimes a naso-pharyngeal exam is done with a flexible fiber-optic camera.

The information collected from the history and physical, sleep study, and other indicated tests, help us achieve a better understanding of the severity of the disease. Depending on the degree and severity of the obstructive sleep apnea, multiple treatment modalities can be available

An initial treatment may consist of using a nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. One the main problems with the CPAP machine is lack of compliance and inability to tolerate the machine. Other nonsurgical options are available such are oral repositioning appliances, weight loss plans, and many others. Feel free to discuss those options with one of our qualified surgeons if you have any questions.

For patients who have failed or are unable to tolerate the nonsurgical methods, our excellent surgeons can discuss with you the most predictable surgeries that can benefit you. Based to the clinical and radiographic findings, a plan unique to each patient will be discussed. This can range from septoplasty to jaw repositioning surgery (orthognathic surgery) in order to bypass and cure the obstruction.

Our Doctors will be more than happy to assist you with your sleep apnea in order give you your life back. Obstructive sleep apnea is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment. Call DFW Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery today to learn more about treatment for sleep apnea in Irving, Mesquite, and Ennis, Texas.