If you’re one of the 22 million Americans suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you know the effects it can have on your everyday routines. Nights of interrupted sleep lead to days of fatigue, moodiness, and problems focusing at work, at school, and even in your social life.
Without proper treatment, OSA can increase your risks of serious medical problems, like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and stroke.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage obstructive sleep apnea so you can get the restful, healthy sleep you need. At Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, Brandon Kang, DDS, and his team offer several options for OSA treatment. For those living in and around San Francisco and Oakland, California, Dr. Kang tailors treatment to each patient’s unique needs.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, here’s what you should know about your treatment choices.
There are actually two types of sleep apnea — OSA and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is a relatively rare condition that develops when messages between your brain and your breathing muscles become interrupted during sleep. Most people who have sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea, which is far more common and easier to treat.
OSA occurs when your airway becomes blocked multiple times during sleep. Each blockage interrupts your sleep, sometimes for only a few seconds at a time. In fact, the interruptions can be so brief, many people with OSA sleep right through them and don’t realize they suffer from apnea until their doctor puts together all their other symptoms, like daytime drowsiness and snoring, for instance.
These blockages happen when the soft tissues near the back of your throat relax at night and descend into your airway, preventing you from breathing normally. Many people with OSA have hundreds of tiny interruptions every night.
When it comes to treating OSA, you have several options.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is probably the most widely-known treatment for sleep apnea because it’s had a lot of coverage in the media. You may have seen commercials for CPAP devices and accessories.
CPAP works by sending a steady stream of air into your airway while you sleep. The air is supplied through a mask that covers your nose or your nose and mouth. The air pressure works to keep your airway open and prevent it from collapsing.
While this treatment option can be very effective in treating OSA, many people find CPAP to be uncomfortable to use every night. In fact, research shows only 30%-60% of people use their devices regularly — the way they’re supposed to.
Oral appliances are a little like night guards worn for teeth grinding, except their purpose is to gently shift your lower jaw slightly forward to prevent your airway from collapsing while you sleep.
Some OSA oral devices are uncomfortable because they’re not properly fitted. Dr. Kang uses special technology to ensure your appliance fits properly and comfortably, while still being effective at treating your apnea symptoms.
Most patients respond very well to CPAP or oral devices. But for those who don’t find relief using these two methods, surgery may be recommended to help keep your airway open. OSA surgery uses advanced techniques to alter the position of your jaws, so your airway stays open. Surgery also typically eliminates the need to use oral appliances or CPAP in the future.
OSA might seem like little more than an annoyance, but without proper care, you can wind up with much more serious medical problems in your future. To learn more about the OSA treatment options we offer and how they could help you, call our office most convenient to you or book an appointment online today.