It has everything to do with obstructive sleep apnea!

If you’re struggling to stay asleep at night and find yourself tired and fatigued with a lack of focus and concentration, it may have more to do with an obtrusive form of sleep apnea than drinking coffee too late in the day!

Find answers to your sleep disruptions with the Alaska Center For Oral + Facial surgery. We specialize in successfully treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to provide our patients with a good night’s sleep and improved quality of life. Learn more about obstructive sleep apnea in today’s post! 

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

OSA affects an estimated 18 to 20 million adults and the sleep they miss! Not only does it interrupt vital sleep cycles, but it can also be life-threatening putting people at risk for stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat. 

It’s also important to point out that because people who suffer from OSA are often fatigued, this can result in daytime drowsiness when driving that may cause car accidents, productivity issues at work, and even relationship concerns.  

Obstructive sleep apnea is serious. 

What is the physiological response of OSA?

As a person is sleeping, the upper airway can become blocked by extra tissue, enlarged tonsils, or a large tongue, in addition to the muscles relaxing and collapsing during sleep, nasal passage issues, and the positioning of the jaw. 

Apnea is when someone ceases to breathe as a result of the factors listed above, but the brain still has a protective impulse and will wake the person up during sleep to begin the breathing process again. 

How is sleep apnea defined? 

Sleep apnea is traditionally diagnosed with an interruption of 30 apneas over a 7-hour sleep period. These apneas can last for a few short seconds and last up to 30 to 90 seconds and repeat up to 500 times in severe sleep apnea cases.  

Risk Factors Of Sleep Apnea

  • Women with a collar size of 16 inches or more
  • Men with a collar size of 17 inches or more
    Children with large adenoids or tonsils
  • People with large tongues
  • A short, lower jaw (retrognathia)
  • A small palate
  • Obesity

Diagnosing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Before OSA is diagnosed, people may have an inclination that something is wrong because of their constant daytime drowsiness and fatigue. It’s important you see your doctor for a diagnosis where they can check examine your neck and head and other physical symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. 

Once they have an idea that it may be OSA, they can run a series of diagnostics tests including: 

Polysomnogram – This is a test that typically requires the patient to stay overnight at the hospital or sleep center because the testing lasts throughout the night. As you sleep the polysomnogram measures the organ systems with the following testing diagnostics: 

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures brain waves
  • Electro-oculogram (EOM), which measures eye movements
  • Electromyogram (EMG), which measures muscles
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG), which measures heart rhythm and rate
  • Pulse oximetry test, which measures oxygen in the blood
  • Arterial blood gas analysis (ABG), which measures oxygen content and saturation

Once you’ve undergone testing and have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, there are a variety of treatment options available, including surgery. 

The overarching goal is to expand and create better airflow, in an otherwise obstructed area. 

Weight loss – Obesity is a risk factor in obstructive sleep apnea, and though this option may take a little more time and isn’t quite the quick fix, losing weight will be advantageous not only for sleep but your overall health.

Nasal decongestants –  In mild cases of OSA, a nasal decongestant may be used to relieve snoring and is also a great thing to be used in tandem with weight loss. 

Positional Therapy – Sleeping on your back (supine) can make sleep apnea worse, so positional therapy can help teach people to sleep in a different position. Use of a CPAP, BiPAP in combination with positional therapy has been very helpful for those who have mild obstructive sleep apnea. 

Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP/BPAP) – These machines are used for OSA when a CPAP machine is not effective. A BiPAP has high and low settings that respond to how you breathe at night so the pressure changes during inhalation versus exhalation. 

Let’s examine some of the common surgeries performed for obstructive sleep apnea below. 

Hyoid Suspension – The hyoid bone sits right above the Adam’s apple and in this procedure, it stabilizes the hyoid bone to secure it to help keep the airway open.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – If your OSA is a result of a narrow palate, UPPP stiffens and shortens the soft palate in your mouth by removing part of the uvula and reducing the outer part of the soft palate. 

Genioglossus Advancement (GGA) – This procedure helps secure the front tongue tendon to help keep it stable and to reduce the displacement of it in the throat. A GGA is often performed in addition to a UPPP or hyoid suspension. 

Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) – This is the only procedure that can create an air passageway to help a person breathe better and involves surgically placing the jawbones forward along with the palate, tongue, and soft tissues, effectively opening up the airway. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment At The Alaska Center For Oral + Facial Surgery

If you notice daytime drowsiness or fatigue and it’s impacting your quality of life, it’s important to speak with your doctor about the possibility of OSA. 

With a diagnosis of OSA, there are solutions and we’re here to help and support you! 

Learn more about maxillomandibular advancement and how it can improve your sleep and quality of life by scheduling a consultation today!