People who have this sleep disorder repeatedly stop breathing while they’re asleep. In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the condition, this happens when the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse.
You might not know if you have sleep apnea, because you only wake up enough to jump-start your breathing, then you fall back to sleep. Since you never fully regain consciousness, you may not be aware that you’re waking up multiple times — perhaps even hundreds of times — every night.
It’s More Than Just Sleep Loss
Why is sleep apnea such a serious disorder?
First, if you have sleep apnea, you may wake up tired and drained, even though you “slept” for at least six to eight hours. You feel like you need to nap every day. You may nod off suddenly or feel extremely drowsy while driving.
Yes, loss of quality sleep makes you feel run down, but it also threatens your long-term health. It’s not safe to feel tired all the time, but there are more serious risks you need to know about. When this condition goes untreated, it can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease or heart failure, diabetes and depression.
If you’re diagnosed, understand that it’s more than just a pesky disorder. It’s dangerous if it’s ignored.
Nonsurgical Treatments Could Help
The first step in forming an effective treatment plan is to determine the severity of your disorder. If your condition is mild to moderate, your doctor may outfit you with an oral appliance that holds the tissues in your mouth in place.
You may be a good candidate for a Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers air through the obstruction and prevents frequent oxygen loss.
Your doctor may also recommend losing weight, reducing alcohol intake and increasing exercise — all lifestyle changes that can help reduce the negative effects of sleep apnea.
Are You a Good Candidate for Surgery?
If you’ve exhausted nonsurgical treatment options and the condition is still having negative effects on your everyday life and your wellness, you may be a good candidate for oral surgery to anatomically resolve the condition.
Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) is one example of a procedure that can be effective. The upper and lower jaws, the tongue and the palate are shifted forward so the airway is more open, reducing the chance of a blockage.
Interested in Learning More?
At Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, your health is our primary concern. We can help you eliminate the risks associated with sleep apnea and restore your restful night’s sleep. Contact us today for a consultation regarding your condition.