People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
have disrupted sleep and can have low blood oxygen levels during sleep.
When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, air flow can be diminished at several
locations in the airway. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low
enough, the patient partially awakens, the obstruction in the airway clears,
and the flow of air starts again, the result being fragmented and sub-optimal
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation can
lead to serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals
suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.
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.
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 study possible sites
of obstruction. Sometimes a naso-pharyngeal exam is done with a flexible
fiber-optic camera to gain additional information. To confirm the amount
of cardiovascular compromise, decreased oxygenation levels and other physiologic
abnormalities, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor an individual
Once a diagnosis has been made, there are several
treatment options available. Your surgeon will discuss which treatment is
in your best interest.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious condition
that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer
coverage for diagnosis and treatment. OSA is a very serious condition that
needs careful attention and treatment.
Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis