Sleep apnea is a common disorder that is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring with pauses in breathing during sleep, gasping or choking during sleep, daytime drowsiness, morning headache, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and memory loss.
There are a number of solutions for sleep apnea which have been shown to improve sleeping patterns and allow sleep apnea sufferers to return to their normal lives.
Before seeking any treatments, however, you should first see a sleep specialist who will perform a physical exam and a sleep study. The study will reveal the severity your sleep apnea and provide a framework for treatment.
For many patients, making a few lifestyle changes can improve sleep apnea symptoms dramatically.
- Weight loss
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives
- Alter your sleep position by sleeping on your side
- Quit smoking
Other patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea (who are unable to use C-PAP) may benefit from oral appliances. The oral appliance is a molded device worn at night to adjust the lower jaw and tongue to keep the airways open. Your dentist or orthodontist should be able to fit you with a mouthpiece or direct you to a specialist who can.
For moderate to severe sleep apnea, the most common treatment is a C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. A C-PAP machine uses a mask which fits over your mouth and nose. During the night, the machine pushes continuous air pressure to help keep your airway open while you sleep.
Some patients may benefit from surgical treatment which can widen breathing passages. To eliminate throat obstructions or facial problems that contribute to sleep apnea, surgery usually involves the correction of nasal problems (such as a deviated septum), removal of soft tissue on the back of the throat and palate, or upper and lower jaw advancement.
At Austin Oral Surgery, our surgeons have experience in every aspect of sleep apnea surgery. Every one of our sleep apnea surgeries is performed by two surgeons to make sure that every patient receives the highest quality of care.