Sleep apnea is a condition that causes patients to experience pauses in breathing, or apneas, during sleep. These pauses can last between a few seconds and whole minutes, and patients may wake up or partially awaken with a gasping sensation. Because the major symptoms of sleep apnea occur during sleep, usually a partner or roommate will notice the condition before the actual sufferer. Although the airway blockages generally occur at night, sleep apnea can seriously affect your overall quality of life, and in severe cases, it can lead to serious cardiovascular problems. Some common symptoms associated with sleep apnea include the following:
- Loud snoring, choking, or gasping sounds during sleep
- Grogginess or sleepiness during the day, even after a full night’s rest
- Difficulty paying attention during the day
- Irritability, mood changes, or depression
- Waking with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Difficulty staying asleep through the night
- Waking up with shortness of breath
- Cessations in breathing during sleep (noticed by another person)
There are multiple different kinds of sleep apnea, and not all sleep apnea patients will experience the same symptoms—it is possible to have sleep apnea without loud snoring or other symptoms. Having a sleep apnea test or sleep study is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have sleep apnea. Getting tested is important because sleep apnea can cause serious problems if it is left untreated for an extended period of time.
Surgical Treatment of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can sometimes be managed or treated with lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and losing weight. CPAP machines are also often successful at managing sleep apnea, but in some cases, surgery is the best way to unblock the airway. Oral surgeons can perform certain procedures to alter the shape of the soft palate or jaw to correct sleep apnea.
UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) is a procedure that removes or alters tissue in the back of the soft palate. Doing so can open the airway and prevent blockages during sleep. Laser Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) uses laser technology to tighten the soft palate, achieving a similar airway-opening effect.
Sometimes the position of the jaw can limit the air passage in the throat. In these cases, a more complex procedure may be necessary. Orthognathic surgery or corrective jaw surgery can reposition the jaw to improve airflow and stop sleep apnea from occurring.
Surgical Sleep Apnea Treatment at Siouxland Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
If you are referred to us by a sleep specialist or simply want to learn about your sleep apnea treatment options, our staff can help. Contact one of our four office locations in Sioux Falls, SD, Mitchell, SD, Brookings, SD, or Yankton, SD, to schedule a consultation appointment or find out more about sleep apnea treatments.