For the 18 million Americans suffering with sleep apnea, a night’s sleep can be anything but restful. Those with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When OSA occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat, which blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. This causes the oxygen levels in the brain to drop, partially waking the sleeper until the obstruction clears and the flow of air starts again. Here are some common symptoms of sleep apnea:

  1. Loud, chronic snoring (an annoyed spouse may be the person to ask about this one).
  2. Frequent breaks in breathing and gasping for air.
  3. You think you get plenty of sleep, but you are always tired.
  4. Waking up with a headache.
  5. High blood pressure.
  6. You are overweight or obese.
  7. You frequently get up to go to the bathroom during the night.
  8. You are irritable, depressed, or have mood swings.

There are several treatment options available for sleep apnea. Initial treatment often consists of using a nasal CPAP machine to limit obstruction at night, but other treatment options often include in-office surgical procedures such as:

  • Uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP):  Performed in the back of the soft palate and throat.
  • Laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP): Similar to the UPPP, but with a laser.
  • Radio-frequency probe procedure: Used to tighten the soft palate.
  • Orthognathic surgery: This procedure is performed in a hospital under general anesthesia and aims to increase the size of the airway by repositioning the bones of the upper and lower jaw.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires careful attention and treatment. Recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate medical care is the first step in treatment. As your Melbourne oral surgeon, we can assess the level of obstruction using a fiber-optic camera, x-ray analysis, or sleep study. If you find that you’re experiencing these symptoms, contact us so that we can make a proper diagnosis and find the right treatment for you.