Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea happens, the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. As a result, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, those with obstructive sleep apnea can suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, and loss of concentration. The first step in treatment resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation. This diagnosis is done by physicians through a clinical exam and sleep study. The phsyician then offer consultation and treatment options. There are several treatment options available. An initial treatment may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized air through a nasal or full face mask to limit obstruction at night. One of the surgical options is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser and is called a laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires overnight stay in the hospital. Another treatment of obstructive sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy which is done at your dentists office when your physician prescribes it.
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