Did you know that many sleep apnea sufferers around the world may be waking up as many as a hundred times per night or more without knowing it?
With worldwide estimates as high as 24 percent of men and 9 percent of women who may be living with sleep apnea, it is not surprising the American Sleep Apnea Association considers it a major worldwide health issue today.
If you think you may have sleep apnea or suspect a loved one (child or adult) may be a sufferer, this blog will offer the foundational information you need to begin the diagnostic and treatment process with Dr. Jamali.
Sleep Apnea Explained
There are two main categories of sleep apnea. The first, central sleep apnea is far less common and less well known. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain signals for respiration are interrupted and night time breathing cessation occurs as a result.
The second, obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common and best known sleep apnea disorder. This type of sleep apnea occurs when there is an obstruction of some kind that blocks the airway at the back of the throat during the night. This obstruction, which often stems from excess soft tissue in the soft palate, can block respiration during the night, often as frequently as hundreds of times per sleep cycle.
The first step to deciding on the best treatment is confirming which type of sleep apnea you have developed, central or obstructive.
Risk Factors & Symptoms for Sleep Apnea
More is continually being learned about the full range of risk factors for and symptoms of sleep apnea.
These are considered to be the most common risk factors and symptoms:
- Morning headaches, dry mouth or sore throat.
- Sudden waking in the night, often with a gasp for air.
- Daytime sleepiness, irritability, fogginess or inability to concentrate.
- Sleeping but never feeling rested.
- Loud snoring (obstructive type ONLY).
- Waking many times in the night to use the bathroom.
- Being overweight or obese (however, thinner people can also develop sleep apnea).
- Having a thicker neck, smaller jaw, larger tongue and more soft tissue at the back of the mouth (soft palate area).
- Being male and over the age of 40 (however, women and children can also develop sleep apnea).
- Having a family medical history that includes a diagnosis of sleep apnea in close relatives.
- A personal history of acid reflux, deviated septum, allergies or narrow sinus passages.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Diagnosing sleep apnea typically begins with a visit to a family doctor with a complaint of fatigue or allergies.
After taking a list of symptoms and doing an exam, this will generate a referral to a specialist like Dr. Jamali who can order a sleep test to diagnose whether sleep apnea may be the cause of the symptoms.
The sleep test, which can be performed in a sleep center or at home, can determine whether breathing cessation is occurring in the night and if so, how often and for how long. From here, the treatment phase can begin.
Gastric Bypass Surgery & Sleep Apnea
Because there is a known correlation between individuals struggling with issues of overweight or obesity and obstructive sleep apnea, gastric bypass for weight loss is of interest to the medical community as a possible treatment option.
However, it is important to understand the risks of undergoing gastric bypass surgery without first treating the sleep apnea in other ways. These risks include proper management of anesthesia and breathing monitoring during surgery.
But the more significant risks occur with the decision to put off more immediately impactful sleep apnea treatments to have gastric bypass surgery go through the recovery process and wait for the weight loss to occur in the hopes that it will ease or eliminate the symptoms.
For very mild cases of obstructive sleep apnea, it may be deemed medically low-risk to proceed with gastric bypass surgery before looking at other more immediately impactful options such as use of a CPAP machine, correction of sinus or deviated septum issues or having reconstructive jaw surgery.
But for moderate to severe sleep apnea cases, it is best to treat the primary symptoms right away to reduce the risk of brain damage and death that can result from ongoing or extended airway obstruction at night.
Treating Sleep Apnea
The prescription of breathing devices for the management of sleep apnea (such as CPAP, VPAP, Nasal EPAP, etc.) can make a measurable difference in the reduction of sleep apnea symptoms.
However, for moderate to severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, an increasingly preferred route with more permanent and widespread positive results is orthognathic (jaw) surgery. Sometimes jaw surgery is also combined with other necessary corrections, such as surgical correction of a deviated septum, widening of nasal/sinus passages, removal of excess soft palate tissue or correction of bite issues.
Because jaw surgery can potentially eliminate the need for ongoing uses of a breathing device at night, it is increasingly becoming a preferred choice for obstructive sleep apnea patients and their loved ones as well.
Contact Dr. Jamali for Help
Dr. Jamali’s busy oral and maxillofacial surgical practice is located in New York City, NY. Dr. Jamali is a Real Self Top Doctor and has been named to the Real Self Top 100 (2014).
His passion for facial reconstructive surgery and jaw surgery was preceded by a deep interest in general dentistry, dental and oral trauma, internal medicine, issues of anesthesia, general surgery and otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat specialization). As modern medicine continues to advance, Dr. Jamali continues to devote a significant portion of his time towards continuing education to better serve his patients and their loved ones.
To learn more and schedule a consultation with Dr. Jamali, you are invited to contact us at 212-480-2777 or visit us online at www.omsofny.com.