A sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, is not merely inconvenient. It can have serious consequences for your health. Patients who experience signs of a sleep disorder, such as daytime drowsiness, loud snoring or frequent headaches or sore throats upon waking should complete a sleep study to determine whether they have a sleep disorder. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, the patient can then begin to pursue treatment.
Patients who are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which the airway opening is repeatedly blocked during sleep causing the patient to stop breathing briefly, can consult with an oral surgeon to learn about treatment options for the condition. The positioning of the jaw or tongue during sleep can often influence the environment that encourages the apneic episodes, and these specialists are well versed in correcting issues of the facial structures.
Although an oral surgeon can take the lead on sleep apnea treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean the patient will need to undergo an invasive intervention. The first approach may be a custom-designed appliance that will keep the jaw or tongue in a forward position during sleep, reducing the likelihood that the soft tissues at the rear of the throat will collapse and cover up the airway opening.
In other cases, surgery may be indicated. For example, the surgeon may remove excess soft tissue in the area to correct the problem.
Seeking treatment for sleep apnea will improve the quality of life of patients and benefit their health, as this condition appears to have a relationship with serious health issues such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Some evidence suggests that patients who have sleep apnea may even have an increased risk of dying suddenly.
Are you concerned that you may have a sleep disorder? Call our team at Austin Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for information on resources for completing a sleep study. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, follow up with us for treatment.