Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing is repeatedly obstructed or restricted for periods of 10 seconds or longer during sleep. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, fatigue, and tiredness, and may raise risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, heart arrhythmia or insulin resistance.

At the Sleep Disorders Center, our multidisciplinary team of neurologists, dentists, oral surgeons, otolaryngologists, pulmonologists and psychiatrists can help to diagnose sleep apnea and, in most cases, offer an effective treatment with mechanical, dental, or surgical approaches adapted to your particular needs.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can range from mild to severe, based in part on the number of times each hour that you stop breathing. Loud or habitual snoring is one of the most frequent symptoms indicating that sleep apnea may be present, and excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the most common consequences. Sleep apnea is more likely to occur if you are overweight, use certain medicines or alcohol before bed, or sleep on your back.

To diagnose sleep apnea and assess its severity we perform an overnight sleep study, or a polysomnogram, that records your brainwaves, breathing patterns, oxygen levels and other body functions. Depending on your medical history and oral, nose, and throat anatomy, monitoring of carbon-dioxide levels and/or esophageal pressure may be done as well.  The information recorded during the sleep study diagrams your breathing patterns during different sleep stages and sleep positions. A specialized sleep technologist then examines your recording to score it, and then one of the physicians interprets the results.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

CPAP: The standard treatment for sleep apnea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP, which involves wearing a mask on your face while you sleep. The mask conducts pressurized air through your nose, or through your nose and mouth, to your throat. The added pressure in your throat then keeps it from collapsing while you sleep, so you can breathe normally. Using CPAP is like wearing glasses, it doesn't change your condition but it helps to control it. CPAP therapy is highly effective if used properly every night.

Oral appliance: For patients who cannot tolerate CPAP, an oral appliance to hold your jaw forward may be a suitable treatment option. You can be evaluated for this through our Alternatives to CPAP Clinic.

Surgery: Surgical treatments can sometimes eliminate or improve sleep apnea to the point that CPAP or appliances are no longer needed. If surgery is recommended, we offer multiple options depending on your specific preferences, sleep study findings, oral and throat anatomy, and likelihood of success.

Next Steps

If you think you might suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and need to be evaluated or if you need help with CPAP therapy, please call 734-936-9068. A physician referral is required and needs to be received prior to any appointment date.