My problems began about four years ago when my husband noticed I was snoring excessively throughout the night. I soon found myself waking up in the middle of the night because I had difficulties breathing, resulting in a diagnosis for sleep apnea. My doctor did bring up the possibility of surgery to cure my sleep apnea, but I am hesitant to pursue it. I have always been wary of surgery. How does oral surgery help relieve my sleep apnea, and are there any dangerous side effects I should be aware of?
You ask some excellent questions, and it does sound like you are having trouble with sleep which can, of course, be very disruptive to your every day life. The most important thing to think about when considering surgery is to make sure that you have had a thorough evaluation with a physician who specializes in sleep disorders. There are two different kinds of sleep apnea, one that is triggered by a problem with central nervous system control of breathing and one that is triggered by the mechanics of the lungs and airways. For people who have a lot of soft tissue in the upper airways, a surgical solution can sometimes be helpful. Removing or modifying the palate and/or back of the throat can help keep the airway open during sleep in people for whom the relaxation during sleep results in constriction of the airway. However, before having surgery you would want to make sure that you have been appropriately diagnosed with sleep apnea and that reversible causes have been addressed. Snoring in itself is usually not sufficient. Sleep apnea requires a polysomnogram (overnight sleep test) and consultation with a sleep specialist. Hopefully you can have all of your questions answered by seeing a sleep specialists, and there may even be a non-surgical option that might work for you.
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