People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.
Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very 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.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
The first step in treatment for sleep apnea resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation. Dr. Ryu offers consultation and treatment options.
In addition to a detailed history, Dr. Ryu will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With a CBCT analysis, the doctor can ascertain the level of obstruction. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor an individual overnight.
Once Dr. Ryu has the study scored and interpreted you will be reappointed to review the findings of the study. In some cases Dr. Ryu will be able to fit you with an oral appliance to treat your sleep apnea without the need for a CPAP machine.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
There are several treatment options available. Dr Ryu is able to treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. In some cases those with severe sleep apnea who have been unsuccessful with a CPAP can benefit from the oral appliance .
Dr Ryu works with a specialized lab that creates a customized sleep appliance for your mouth.
Some treatments may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night.
One of the surgical options is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser and is called a laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (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 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 plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment.