Obstructive Sleep Apnea


More than 20 million Americans may have obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea often goes undetected or undiagnosed and negatively affects the sleep and quality of life of the individual.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

“Apnea” means “without breath,” which is an episode of interrupted breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea affects an individual’s ability to breathe during sleep because of a physical obstruction, often in the nose, roof of mouth, tongue, or throat. Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by significant and prolonged interruptions of breathing at night.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea inhibits restful sleep, leading to the following symptoms:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Lack of restful sleep
  • Need to sleep during the day
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Extreme drowsiness while driving
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Lack of energy
  • Low libido
Contact Us Today

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious disorder that may cause significant lung and heart problems over time, and cognitive decline, including problems with memory, attention, and thinking skills.

Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea may lead to:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Rarely, premature death

Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing during the night. These cessations of breathing may be associated with high blood pressure, a substantial decrease in blood oxygen levels, cardiac arrhythmias (irregularities in the heart’s normal beating pattern) and may even cause sudden death. Oftentimes it is a spouse who notices apnea events during their partner’s sleep.

How Sleep Apnea is Treated

To treat obstructive sleep apnea, a physician will start off by recommending a conservative, or non-surgical treatment, such as weight loss, the use of a positive airway pressure device, and adjustments to sleep position.

Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP or BiPAP) Therapy is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Patients are instructed to wear a CPAP mask during sleep, which helps deliver pressurized air. Air pressure can be manually adjusted to alleviate airway obstruction and eliminate apnea episodes. Many patients experience significant improvements in their sleep pattern, but some may have difficulty with the CPAP device and find it cumbersome and difficult to use.

Mandibular Advancement Appliance is a device worn at night that helps to open up the airway by moving the lower teeth and jaw forward. Most devices are adjustable and can be customized to fit a patient’s jaw. Some patients may experience movement of the teeth or discomfort of the jaw joint (TMJ) caused by prolonged pressure on the teeth. However, most patients without pre-existing TMJ don’t experience any negative side effects.

Drug-Induced Sleep Endoscopy, or DISE, is a procedure performed to examine a sleeping patient’s throat and obtain additional information about how it collapses. In a controlled environment, such as the operating room, the patient is given medication that will put them in light sleep. Once they begin to snore, a flexible, very thin video camera is placed through the nose and the physician examines the airway to identify the precise location of the site(s) of obstruction, such as the palate, tongue, tonsils, sides of the throat, or epiglottis. Patients typically return to normal activities the following day.