People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, the individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.
In addition to a detailed history, Drs. Nigro and Ellinger may want to confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels. Thus, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor an individual overnight.
There are several treatment options available. The most common non-surgical treatments consist of using either a CPAP machine or jaw repositioning oral appliance. The CPAP machine delivers continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) through a nasal mask to limit airway obstruction at night. For patients who are unable to use the CPAP, the option which is available in the office of Drs. Nigro and Ellinger, consists of using an oral appliance to move the lower jaw forward. This allows the flow of air to proceed without obstruction, thereby eliminating sleep apnea events and/or snoring. One of the surgical options is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser and is called a laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures are usually performed under light IV sedation in the specialist’s office.
In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires a one to two day overnight stay.
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment. Call us today at 419-419-3334 or toll free at 888-787-4808 to schedule a consultation.