Diagnosis and Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by interruptions of breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the throat collapses during sleep and blocks the airways. This particular disorder was discovered in 1965 by several different doctors in Europe. It owes its name to the Greek word “apnea” which translates to mean “lack of breath”.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis:
Some of the tests used to diagnose sleep apnea are:
- Polysomnography – This test records a variety of body functions during sleep such as electrical activity of the brain, eye movement, heart rate, muscle activity, air flow, respiratory efforts and blood oxygen levels. A polysomnography is used to diagnose sleep apnea as well as determine the severity of the disorder.
- Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT) – This test measures the speed at which a person falls asleep. The patient is given many opportunities to fall asleep throughout the course of one day when they would normally be awake. The amount of time it takes for the person to fall asleep is measured for each instance. Individuals who fall asleep in less than five minutes are considered for treatment of sleep disorders.
Mild Sleep Apnea Treatments:
If you have mild sleep apnea, these personal lifestyle changes may be all the treatment you need:
- Avoid alcohol and medicines that make you sleepy. They make it harder for your throat to stay open while you sleep.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight or obese. Even a little weight loss can improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
- Sleep on your side instead of your back to help keep your throat open. Use special pillows that prevent you from sleeping on your back.
- Use nasal sprays or allergy medicines to keep your nasal passages open at night.
- Quit smoking. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit.
In addition to lifestyle changes, mild sleep apnea can be treated with:
- Dental appliances – These help mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea by repositioning the lower jaw and the tongue. Dental appliances even help patients who snore but do not have sleep apnea.
Moderate to Severe Sleep Apnea Treatments
- CPAP Breathing Machine – CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the most common and effective form of non-surgical treatment for sleep apnea. The patient wears a mask which is attached by a hose to an air blower. The air blower feeds continuous and adjustable air pressure into your mouth to prevent the airway from collapsing during sleep. There are many different types of CPAP machines, so if one doesn’t work well, you can always try a different type.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – If nonsurgical approaches fail to help in severe cases of sleep apnea, surgery may be the only solution. UPPP is a procedure that consists of removing the tonsils and excess tissue from the uvula and the soft palate at the back of the throat in order to enlarge the upper airway passage and facilitate normal breathing. The uvula is a small, U-shaped piece of tissue that can be seen dangling down from the soft palate over the back of the tongue. Removing the excess tissue that blocks the airway during sleep can prevent the patient from experiencing the side effects of sleep apnea.
- Maxillomandibular advancement –During this surgery your jaws are moved forward which enlarges the space behind the tongue and soft palate, therefore making obstruction of the airway less likely to occur. This procedure can be combined with another in order to ensure further success in treatment of your sleep apnea.
Schedule a no-obligation consultation about sleep apnea treatments with the surgeons at Face and Jaw Surgery Center at one of our four, convenient North Dakota locations. Our surgeons are specially trained in oral and maxillofacial surgery and treatments and have performed many corrective sleep apnea procedures. They can evaluate your needs and recommend the most effective treatment plan.
Face and Jaw Surgery Center serves all of North Dakota and North West Minnesota including Moorhead, MN and East Grand Forks, MN.
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