Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening disorder. It is more prevalent in men. It’s important that men who are experiencing sleep apnea symptoms visit a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Sleep apnea causes carbon dioxide blood levels to dangerously rise and oxygen levels to decrease. The heart is then forced to pump faster and harder to compensate for the lack of oxygen. Sleep apnea patients may stop breathing numerous times each night and this is linked to a serious health problem.
Men tend to ignore health issues, and this is especially common for men with an obstructive sleep disorder. Studies show that only 10 percent of individuals with sleep apnea see a doctor for an evaluation or to request potentially life-saving treatment. You may have heard of sleep apnea, but perhaps you don’t fully understand why it is a significant health concern.
Oral surgeon, Dr. Jamali in New York, NY, provides care for patients suffering from sleep apnea. He will exam you, review your health history and listen to your symptoms and concerns. He will then order tests to determine cardiovascular compromise that you may be experiencing due to decreased oxygenation levels. A sleep study may also be recommended to monitor your individual sleep pattern overnight.
Men who are experiencing sleep apnea may benefit from changing unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and the use of tranquilizers. Better options exist that can replace the uncomfortable use of a sleep mask, such as a dental device. Permanent surgical solutions are available that have an impressive success rate and are simple for oral surgeon Jamali to perform.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common cause for disrupted sleep and low oxygen levels. Obstructive sleep is experienced when the tongue to be sucked backward against the back of the throat. This obstruction forcefully blocks the upper airway passage and restricts the flow of air. The lack of air causes the sleeper’s oxygen level to dramatically decrease. When the brain’s oxygen level drops low enough, the sleeper will partially awaken to clear the obstruction from the throat. A loud gasp or groan is typically heard as the flow of air begins again.
The throat’s supportive structures relax and cause the airway to substantially narrow in a person with OSA. The soft palate, uvula, tonsils and the tongue may block the airway for ten to twenty seconds repeatedly. Some individuals may experience a blocked airway for several minutes.
Repeated cycles of obstructive sleep apnea indicate that the sleeper is experiencing a decreased level of oxygenation on a regular basis, and this lack of sufficient oxygen creates potentially serious cardiovascular concerns. Individuals with OSA commonly suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day, along with depression and decreased levels of concentration. Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) is a less serious obstructive sleep disorder. The symptoms of OSA and UARS are very similar.
Is There a Difference- Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects nearly 20,000,000 Americans. This is a condition that causes a person to stop breathing periodically while they sleep. These lapses of breathing can occur a few times a night or hundreds of times. Individuals with sleep apnea partially awaken. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea is considered to be a communication issue that occurs between the brain and the muscles that control breathing. This may be caused by a medical condition that alters the brain stem’s ability to communicate. This type of apnea is also more common in men and may be connected to health issues, such as a heart disorder, congestive heart failure, brain tumor, stroke or certain medications. Central sleep apnea is a condition that can’t be treated with surgery.
Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea. The treatment for this condition is still being studied, and your doctor would share the most up to date information with you.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of apnea. OSA affects four percent of men and two percent of women. Only 10 percent of apnea sufferers seek treatment, and many suffer silently. There are different levels of obstructive sleep apnea, including mild, moderate and severe.
Who is in Danger?
Obstructive sleep disorder is most common in men. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea is in danger. This is a potentially life-threatening condition that should be clinically investigated, diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Certain factors increase the risk and dangers of obstructive sleep apnea:
- Naturally narrow airway
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Male: men are twice as likely as women to experience OSA
- Sleep apnea family history
- Chronic nasal congestion
Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Men
Sleep apnea symptoms are experienced by both men and women. Women, however, do not commonly experience an increased risk of heart failure caused by sleep apnea. Men with OSA have a greater risk of experiencing heart failure. Complications can arise from obstructive sleep apnea for men and may include:
- Extreme daytime drowsiness, irritability and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Falling asleep at work, watching television or potentially while operating a motor vehicle
- Cardiovascular problems caused by high blood pressure due to sudden drops in blood oxygen level caused by OSA
- Coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke and heart attack
- Breathing problems
- Glaucoma and other chronic eye conditions
- Memory problems
- Mood swings, depression
- Morning headaches
- Reoccurring need to urinate at night (nocturia)
Sleep Apnea Surgery
Initial OSA treatment may consist of a CPAP machine and nasal mask that delivers pressurized oxygen to limit airway obstruction at night. Other options may be recommended, such as a mouth guard, dietary or habit changes.
Oral surgeon Jamali may recommend surgical options, such as uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP). This procedure is completed at the back of the soft palate and the throat. A similar treatment is laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP). A radio-frequency probe is another option that may be used to tighten the soft palate. Each of these OSA procedures is commonly performed in the office using light IV sedation.
In more complex OSA cases, the upper and lower jaw bones may be repositioned to enlarge the airway (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is completed in the hospital with general anesthesia.
Sleep Apnea Consultations
The first step towards recovery is the recognition of the OSA symptoms. Sleeping partners may be the first to mention the lapses in breathing and the gasps of air that are experienced frequently throughout the night. Seeking appropriate care begins with a consultation. Your sleep apnea consultation will provide you with viable treatment options.
Take the first step towards a full night’s sleep and better health. Call 212-480-2777 to request a consultation with Oral Surgeon Majid Jamali, DMD, at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of New York.