Snoring can be bothersome, especially to a sleeping partner, but it may not be a mere annoyance. Under certain conditions, snoring may indicate sleep apnea, which is associated with a number of serious health risks, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. If you don’t get a good night’s rest, you may also be less effective and efficient at work or dangerous behind the wheel.
The most common type of sleep apnea – obstructive – occurs when some of the soft tissues near the airway opening collapse during sleep, causing a series of brief pauses in breathing. When the air is able to flow through these tissues as they vibrate, the loud snoring sound is produced.
In addition to excessive, loud snoring, other symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime drowsiness, frequent morning headaches or sore throats and lack of energy.
Patients who suspect they may have sleep apnea should undergo a sleep study for a conclusive diagnosis. That diagnosis can help the patient get effective treatment.
It’s also important to know whether the sleep apnea is obstructive or central, in which the signals from the brain that prompt the muscles to breathe are interrupted. The treatment approaches differ for the two types of sleep apnea.
If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you may be referred to an oral surgeon for treatment. Oral surgery may be able to correct any structural issues that are contributing to the periodic obstruction of the airway. For example, excessive soft tissue at the back of throat can be removed in a surgical procedure.
Oral surgery can be a particularly valuable treatment approach in cases when more conservative interventions, such as weight loss, lifestyle changes, oral appliances and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, have failed to eliminate the condition.
If you snore excessively, you should schedule an evaluation with our team at Austin Oral Surgery to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Although snoring alone doesn’t necessarily indicate sleep apnea, it’s important for patients who do have this condition to get effective treatment to reduce the other associated health risks.