Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that affects many individuals throughout the United States. It is a very common issue that can cause a series of health risks and severely reduce the quality of life for people suffering from this condition. Patients can receive specialized treatment with multiple solutions to sleep apnea through Virginia Oral, Facial, and Implant Surgery. However, patients might wonder, what really is sleep apnea and why does it happen?

Sleep apnea occurs when the tongue collapses against the back of the throat during nocturnal breathing. 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.

This type of sleep apnea is referred to as Obstructive Sleep Apnea and is by far the most common cause for sleep apnea symptoms. It can severely damage the quality of life as the patients might suffer from such chronic sleepiness that it affects both their professional and social lives. In addition, if left untreated for long periods of time, sleep apnea can even cause high blood pressure, strokes, cardiovascular issues that may result in a heart attack, depression symptoms stemming from sleep deprivation, and chronic headaches.

Patients with sleep apnea may not find it readily apparent, and it is often noticed by a spouse or other housemate before the patients themselves realizes they suffer from the condition. Sleep apnea can affect anyone but is a prominent feature in men, especially overweight men or men over 40. In addition, having a large neck size, larger than normal tonsils or tongue, or those with nasal obstructions such as a deviated septum can suffer from sleep apnea. Patients should be on the lookout for some of the following symptoms to know if they have sleep apnea:

  • Repeatedly waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Occasionally waking up coughing or gasping for air
  • Sleepiness or chronic lack of energy
  • Constant morning headaches
  • Chronic forgetfulness, mood instability, or a reduced sex drive
  • Insomnia

The oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Virginia Oral, Facial & Implant Surgery – Dr. Gocke and Dr. McAdams – offer consultation and treatment options for these patients. He can assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region, cardiovascular damage, and the level of obstruction with cephalometric (skull x-ray) analysis, nasopharyngeal exams performed with a flexible fiber-optic camera, and sleep studies to monitor an individual overnight.

Once sleep apnea in a patient is properly diagnosed and monitored, there are several treatment options available at our office, including:

  • Nightguards as a non-invasive and convenient fix
  • CPAP machine to ensure proper airflow
  • Many different simple laser and surgical options

Sleep apnea does not need to be a life-long condition, and patients have the professionals at Virginia Oral, Facial & Implant Surgery to turn to when they need sleep apnea solutions. To find out more about all the options available for sleep apnea, contact the office to schedule a consultation.