Sleep apnea is a disorder when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. During sleep, repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to serious cardiovascular problems. Individuals with sleep apnea, suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) is a less severe breathing obstruction, where individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.
The first step in treatment resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation from an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
Doctors will assess a detailed medical history and anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. Skull x-rays will be used in order to evaluate the level of obstruction. A sleep study may be recommended to confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels in the patient.
There are several treatment options available. The initial treatment consists of using a nasal CPAP machine to deliver pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask, which limit obstruction at night. One surgical option is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which is surgery performed in the back of the soft palate and throat to reduce obstruction. A similar procedure of sometimes done with assistance of a laser (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 office.
In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may need to 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.
OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plants offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment.