Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), or sometimes shortened to just sleep apnea, is a serious condition characterized by soft tissue obstruction of the airway during sleep. These obstructions can cause lapses in breathing, low blood oxygen levels and frequent nighttime awakenings. The severity of OSA differs among patients, and the pauses in breathing can last a few seconds to minutes.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Many patients who experience obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are unaware of their pauses in breathing and is frequently recognized by someone you sleep with. You may have obstructive sleep apnea if you suffer from the following:
- Morning headaches
- Excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or forgetfulness
- Loud, severe snoring
- Dry, sore throat upon waking
- Witnessed gasps for air while sleeping
- Restless sleep
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition and should be treated without delay. One of the first steps in diagnosing sleep apnea is with a sleep study, also known as a polysomnogram (PSG). If you think you suffer from sleep apnea, speak with your doctor to schedule an appointment with a sleep specialist.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are numerous treatment options for sleep apnea and are based on the severity and frequency of your obstructions. Many patients respond well with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, sleeping on your side, avoidance of alcoholic beverages, and smoking cessation. Your sleep specialists may also recommend a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which is worn at night to keep the airway open. If your obstructions are mild, you may benefit from a dental appliance that repositions the lower jaw.
If your sleep apnea does not improve with lifestyle modifications or you have difficulty wearing a CPAP mask, surgical treatment options are available. Surgical options can include shortening or removing the soft palate and/or jaw repositioning surgery.
Dr. Haupt will perform a detailed head and neck exam and discuss the various treatment options available. They will also work hand in hand with your doctor and sleep specialists to determine which option is best for you and your lifestyle goals.