Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and Surgery Options

The Greek word “apnea” means “without breath.” People who have untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during the night, sometimes as often as hundreds of times during a single night.  Often they stop breathing for a minute or longer. The combination of a bad night’s sleep, night after night, and not breathing normally can have serious health consequences, including:

  • High blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease
  • Memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Impotency
  • Headaches

Other complications include poor job performance and a greater likelihood of being in an accident while driving.

What are symptoms of sleep apnea?

In the United States, sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, it affects more than twelve-million Americans.

Sleep apnea is as common as adult diabetes; unfortunately, the majority of people who suffer from it don’t know they have it, because sleep apnea symptoms are varied and can easily be attributed to other conditions. For example, do you:

  • Wake up with the feeling that you haven’t slept enough
  • Have problems concentrating or remembering things
  • Get headaches in the morning or at night
  • Experience heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth at night
  • Notice swelling in your legs
  • Get up to urinate during the night
  • Sweat or have chest pain when you’re sleeping

What are treatments for sleep apnea?

Proper sleep apnea treatment begins with recognizing the symptoms and meeting with a sleep apnea specialist such as an ear-nose-throat physician or an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. These medical professionals have the specialized equipment and examination procedures to diagnose sleep apnea.

Treatment options include a range of non-surgical and surgical modalities. Used nightly, a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask can limit airway obstruction at night and create more normal breathing patterns.

When non-surgical treatments are not effective, it’s time to consider sleep apnea surgery options to correct your sleep apnea such as an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP surgery, for short), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat.

The severest cases of sleep apnea may require a sleep apnea surgery such as orthognathic surgery. Orthognathic surgery repositions the bones of the upper and lower jaw in order to increase the size of the airway. The procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires a one to two-day overnight hospital stay.

North Dakota Sleep Apnea Specialists

If you are having unexplained symptoms that resemble the sleep apnea symptoms in this article, we invite you to consult with the oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Face and Jaw Surgery Center at one of our four convenient locations in North Dakota for an accurate diagnosis and effective non-surgery and surgery treatment options.

Face and Jaw Surgery Center serves all of North Dakota and North West Minnesota including Moorhead, MN and East Grand Forks, MN.

Bismarck, ND office
Fargo, ND office
Grand Forks, ND office
Minot, ND office