Is there a surgical procedure to correct sleep apnea?
I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. During my sleep study, I stopped breathing ninety-one times during the course of the five hour test. I was told that I had to use a CPAP machine at night when I sleep, and my machine was ordered and the mask fitted. I have tried really hard to get used to using the machine, and I rarely wear the mask all night long before it starts to irritate me and I pull it off in my sleep. I know this is necessary to correct my snoring and crucial in the treatment of my heart disease, high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythms, but I just can't stand wearing the mask. It is my understanding that there are now procedures that can be performed by an oral surgeon to surgically correct sleep apnea. What are they?
Sorry to hear about the obstructive sleep apnea, but the good news is that you are taking steps to manage this condition so that it doesn't lead to problems down the road. I recommend discussing this with your doctor, who can help you find the best treatment options for you. As you mention, the mask and CPAP or BiPAP machine are the gold standards of therapy when it comes to managing this disease. Multiple studies have demonstrated that this is the most effective way to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Unfortunately, a very high number of patients (some studies say almost 80%!) are unable or unwilling to tolerate the mask every night for the rest of their lives. While weight loss could also fix the problem for many people, it is also extremely difficult. And so patients look for other options. Oral surgeons are able to offer either a mouth guard that can help some people improve their symptoms, or a large surgery where the mandible is actually brought forward to increase the size of the airway. In between these 2 options on the surgical spectrum are the surgical treatments offered by otolaryngology-head and neck surgeons (aka ENTs), who are able to perform surgeries such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or other surgeries that involve the soft tissue of the throat. Please speak with your doctor to determine which approach may be best for you.
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