Sleep apnea is a condition that affects the way you breathe while you are asleep. Throughout the night, you may have pauses in your breathing that can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. These episodes may repeat 30 times or more during an hour, preventing you from getting the full night of rest you need and possible raising your risk for a host of other medical conditions. The good news is sleep apnea can be effectively managed today, giving sufferers the complete rest they need and lowering their risk for conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when muscles in the back of the throat relax, allowing your airway to close. This prevents adequate air from getting into the lungs, which in turn can lower the oxygen level in your blood. The brain will sense that the body is not getting sufficient oxygen and wake you up so you can take a deep breath and replenish the oxygen levels in the body. Most people do not realize they actually wake up throughout the night because the periods are so brief. However, the process can take its toll, with daytime drowsiness affecting many aspects of your life.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Sleep apnea is not something that is easily detected during a medical examination or even with a blood test. Most people don’t know they have the condition since it only occurs during sleep. However, there are common signs of the condition that can be further assessed once they are identified. These signs include:
- Loud snoring followed by abrupt wakening, often with a grunt or gasp
- Breathing cessation witnessed by another person during the night
- Waking up with a dry mouth, sore throat or headache
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability or difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty staying asleep at night or restless sleep
Sleep apnea can increase your risk for a host of additional medical conditions, including:
- Heart problems and heart attack
- Increased blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Weight gain and obesity
- Metabolic syndrome
While there is no “cure” for sleep apnea, the condition can be effectively managed to help you get better sleep and lower your risk for some of these health conditions. At Southern California Center for Surgical Arts, some of our treatment options for sleep apnea include:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – This device places a mask over the nose at night to deliver air pressure to your nose. Because the pressure offered by the CPAP is slightly higher than the pressure in the surrounding air, the airways are kept open throughout the night.
Surgery – A surgical plan can be designed to address the level of obstruction of the upper airway and severity of sleep apnea.
Nasal septoplasty and inferior turbinoplasty address the obstruction in the nasal airways, and improves compliance with CPAP machine use.
The uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP) and the laser-assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP) to remove excess tissue from the back of the throat and effectively expand the airway. We can also use radiofrequency energy to tighten the soft palate. These procedures, which are usually performed on an outpatient basis using light IV sedation, are very effective at eliminating nighttime snoring.
Maxillomandibular advancement surgery (MMA) is reconstructive surgery of the upper and lower jaws, both lower and upper jaws are advanced forward to create more airway space and can potentially eliminate sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can increase your risk for other medical problems if left unchecked. To learn more about sleep apnea or the treatment options available, contact Southern California Center for Surgical Arts at 818-696-4425.