Sleep Apnea San Francisco

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. A staggering 80% of these cases are undiagnosed moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Without a proper diagnosis and treatment, sleep apnea can cause:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Atrial Fibrillation

These conditions are life-threatening and ultimately can be prevented when sleep apnea is diagnosed at an early stage. At SF Oral Surgery, we encourage San Francisco patients to review a list of sleep apnea symptoms and schedule a consultation to treat the condition before it raises your risk for related complications.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when you stop breathing when you sleep. Although your body automatically regulates breathing to prevent your brain from suffering a lack of oxygen, the condition can cause:

  • Decreased oxygenation that leads to serious cardiovascular problems.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness as a result of poor quality sleep.
  • Depression and loss of concentration related to sleep loss.

Initially, these symptoms may not seem serious, but over years the problem will continue to progress and often worsens.

Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition found in all ages and all body types, but the majority of sufferers tend to be men over 40 who are overweight. Although those factors increase the chances of developing sleep apnea, San Francisco patients with one or more of the following symptoms may have sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring caused by airway blockage.
  • Waking up gasping for air.
  • Sore throat or dry mouth.
  • Trouble staying asleep.

While other conditions cause similar symptoms, it is important to rule out sleep apnea as a potential cause.

Are There Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a general diagnosis and can range in severity. There are three categories based on why your airway closes:

  • Obstructive: Your tongue blocks your airway when you sleep.
  • Central: Your brain does not activate the muscles needed for breathing.
  • Complex: A combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea.

In the short-term, sleep apnea is not life threatening but it is associated with other conditions that can significantly lower your life expectancy and quality of life.

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

To diagnose sleep apnea, you will need to participate in a sleep study at a sleep laboratory to determine the severity and type of sleep apnea. During an overnight stay at a sleep lab you will be monitored for:

  • Oxygen levels in your blood.
  • Brain wave activity.
  • Frequency of apnea (and hypopnea) per hour.

Once the results of your sleep study have determined the extent of your sleep apnea, you will be able to determine the best possible treatment option for your condition.

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea there are a variety of different treatment options available. Among the most effective are:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure: A device that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night.
  • Positive Airway Pressure Device to increase air pressure to prevent your airway from getting blocked. The device attached to a mask that is worn during sleep.
  • Oral appliances to position your jaw and tongue in a way that keeps your airway clear as you sleep.
  • Surgery to reduce the size or reposition the area obstructing your airway as you sleep. This is particularly effective when treating children and prevents them from developing more severe problems in the future.

Each case of sleep apnea is unique and requires extensive evaluation prior to treatment. The team at SF Oral Surgery will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull x-ray) analysis, the doctors can ascertain the level of obstruction. Sometimes a nasopharyngeal exam is done with a flexible fiber-optic camera.

Surgical Options for Sleep Apnea

One of the surgical options is a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (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 uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These are procedures usually performed under light intravenous sedation in the office.

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 1 to 2 days overnight stay at a local San Francisco hospital.

For more information how to improve your sleep apnea, call our San Francisco office at (415) 776-6710.