Sleep Apnea San Diego CA

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood-oxygen levels. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and stops the air flow. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, and the flow of air starts again, usually accompanied by a loud gasp.

Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation can lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Sufferers also typically report excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.

Less severe obstruction of the airway is sometimes referred to as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). It can cause many of the same symptoms as OSA.

The first step in treating either condition is to recognize  the symptoms and seek help. The MVOMS team offers consultation and treatment options.

In addition to a detailed history, the doctors will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometric (skull x-ray) analysis, the level of obstruction can be ascertained. Sometimes a naso-pharyngeal exam is done with a flexible fiber-optic camera. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor the patient overnight.

Treatment options

Initial treatment may consist of using a CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. One surgical option is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure may be done with the assistance of a laser (laser-assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP)). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe may be utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures are 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 a one or two day overnight stay in the hospital.

OSA is a serious condition that deserves careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage.