Living with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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. Left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, workplace or motor vehicle accidents, increased risk of heart disease, and more. Around 3 percent of the general population experiences obstructive sleep apnea.
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. At St. Luke’s OMS we offer treatment options for those who suffer from sleep apnea. If you reside in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Stroudsburg, PA, or the surrounding communities and would like additional information on sleep apnea treatments, contact our team.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Loud snoring
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Waking up gasping or choking
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Morning headache
- Irritability, mood changes, depression, difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or other cardiac issues
The First Step in Treating Sleep Apnea
The first step in treatment resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons offer consultation and treatment options.
In addition to a detailed history, the doctors will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull x-ray) analysis, the doctors can ascertain the level of obstruction. Sometimes a naso-pharyngeal exam is done with a flexible fiber-optic camera. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor an individual overnight.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
There are several treatment options available when it comes to treating sleep apnea.
- An initial treatment may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night.
- One of the surgical options is an uvulo-palato-pharyngoplasty (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-palatoplasty (LAUPP).
- In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures usually performed under light IV sedation/general anesthesia in the 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 in the hospital.
Schedule a Visit at Our Office Today
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment. If you suffer from sleep apnea, the team at
St. Luke’s OMS is here to help. Do not hesitate to reach out to our team to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations. We have locations in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Stroudsburg, PA.