Although loud snoring can be a hallmark of sleep apnea – the condition in which people stop breathing for short periods repeatedly while they are asleep – the absence of that symptom doesn’t necessarily mean that a patient doesn’t have sleep apnea. This condition is defined by the apneic episodes, which can occur when soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse and obstruct the airway, not by any one symptoms in particular.
If you have other symptoms that are associated with this condition, such as daytime drowsiness, frequent morning headaches or sore throats, irritability or difficulty paying attention, you should schedule a sleep study to see if you might have sleep apnea.
Once you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may be instructed to consult with an oral surgeon for treatment for the condition. The positioning of the jaw and the tongue can often contribute to the conditions that cause the apneic episodes, and these specialists have studied those structures in depth, which helps them to intervene to correct those conditions and eliminate the apnea.
The oral surgeon may initially recommend wearing a custom-designed appliance to keep your jaw or tongue forward during sleep. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask is also highly likely to minimize sleep apnea, but many patients find these masks to be too cumbersome to wear during sleep.
In some cases, the surgeon may need to surgically remove excess tissue at the back of the throat in order to keep that tissue from covering up the airway opening. After examining you, the surgeon can make a recommendation regarding the treatment that is most likely to be effective for you.
Sleep apnea has potentially serious health consequences, so if you notice signs that you may have this condition, you should confirm the diagnosis and get treatment. Even if you don’t snore noticeably, you still may have sleep apnea. Patients with cases of diagnosed sleep apnea can call Austin Oral Surgery to schedule an evaluation in which they can learn more about their treatment options.