Can Sleep Apnea Be Corrected?
Sleep Apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders known to medical science, unfortunately, there is no actual cure. There are however several effective treatment options that are traditionally recommended by sleep specialists. The most invasive treatment option is Sleep Apnea Jaw Surgery and it is only recommended in the more severe cases. There are less invasive treatments that can help correct the less severe cases of Sleep Apnea, but, they will not cure the disorder.
What is Sleep Apnea and why is it considered dangerous to sufferers?
Sleep Apnea is a disorder that is characterized by the stopping of breathing or gasping for air while a person is asleep. While only a sleep specialist or medical doctor can diagnose Sleep Apnea, the condition is normally discovered by the partner of the person who has the disorder.
It is normally discovered by a partner who is kept awake due to the heavy snoring or gasping for air as the other person is sleeping. While some degree of snoring may be normal, if you are waking several times throughout the night and your partner describes your breathing as gasping several times a night, you might need to talk to your healthcare provider.
Sleep Apnea is considered potentially dangerous or even in the most severe cases, it could be life-threatening. This is because if you are stopping breathing as you sleep your brain can be deprived of necessary oxygen. This can be extremely serious if it is occurring regularly.
Two different types of Sleep Apnea
There have been a lot of studies that have gone into the sleeping disordered and they have led to the discovery that there are two distinct types of Sleep Apnea and the treatments for them vary depending on the severity of the disorder. According to sleep specialists, the two types of Sleep Apnea are; Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common of the two types of Sleep Apnea. Since Sleep Apnea is the stopping of breathing while you sleep, Obstructive Sleep Apnea would be when something is getting in the way of airflow into your body. The typical treatment for this type of Sleep Apnea is the wearing of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure Machine). If the breathing machine doesn’t adequately correct the condition, it may be necessary to look into mandibular advancement surgery. This is reserved for the most severe cases as with any surgery it brings its potential risks.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea is the lesser common of the two types of Sleep Apnea. This is a harder-to-diagnose disorder since it involves signals from the brain that causes a stoppage of breathing while a person is asleep. This is commonly caused by some types of medications.
Both types of Sleep Apnea are commonly diagnosed after a person goes through a sleep study. Specially trained doctors and healthcare providers use a specially designed observation that measures your breathing, oxygen levels, and or bodily functions while you are sleeping.
Treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea
After a thorough sleep study has been performed and evaluated by a sleep specialist there are several types of recommended treatment plans; breathing devices, oral devices, and surgical procedures.
The most common and primary treatment prescribed by doctors and sleep specialists for the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep device. The primary sleeping device is a CPAP machine or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. This machine helps to keep the airway unobstructed as a person sleeps and helps to prevent the loss of oxygen to the brain. Two other types of breathing devices can be prescribed depending on the severity of the condition. The APAP (Adjusting Positive Airway Pressure) and BPAP (Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure) offer different types of airway support.
Oral devices are specially designed and fitted mouthpieces that help to keep the airway open by repositioning the jaw or keeping the tongue from blocking the airway while you sleep. More devices of this kind are being developed and approved by the FDA to help those who suffer from Sleep Apnea.
If the other two types of treatments fail to provide adequate improvement to a patient’s Sleep Apnea, the next step would be surgery. Maxillomandibular Advancement Surgery and Mandibular Advancement Surgery procedures are designed to make pronounced changes to the structure of the upper and lower jaw. By realigning the jaw bone the idea is to alleviate any possible obstructions that can be causing Sleep Apnea.
Candidates for Corrective Jaw Surgery
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a potentially very serious condition and when diagnosed it can often be treated. As described earlier in this article there are a number of treatments that have been shown to help treat Sleep Apnea. As with most medical conditions, surgery is often the last resort.
Healthcare providers normally start with less invasive forms of treatment. However, if this fails to correct the problem, then a doctor is likely to recommend one of the two corrective jaw surgeries.
How is the maxillomandibular advancement procedure performed?
Maxillomandibular Advancement before and after the surgery
For many sufferers with Obstructive Sleep Apnea having Maxillomandibular Advancement Surgery discovers there is an unexpected positive result in their appearance. By moving the upper and lower jaw forward, the realignment presents a much stronger facial profile.
Some patients have also noticed a slight widening of the nose and even some saw a slight tipping upward of the very tip of the nose. While these changes were not intended, you can imagine that some people welcomed the changes. After all, the original goal of having the surgery is to correct Sleep Apnea.
What happens next after maxillomandibular advancement operation?
After you have undergone this procedure, there are certain instructions that you will have to follow to the latter for you to heal quickly.
Your doctor will prescribe some effective painkillers to help control the pain after the anesthesia wears off. Make sure that the pain is not intolerable before you begin taking the prescribed medication. Your doctor should know which kind of painkillers to give you to help keep the pain under control.
2. Change in diet.
As already mentioned, you will have to change your diet for a few weeks until your upper and lower jaws are completely healed. It is expected that after the maxillomandibular advancement procedure, you are likely to experience some trouble chewing and swallowing food. You will need to be extra careful with what you eat or drink and reduce the risk of developing complications. For the first few weeks, you can go on a liquid diet. Milkshakes are a great option to give your body protein and energy as you recover. After 2-3 weeks you can then transition to softer foods like eggs or yogurt.
3. Use ice in the mouth.
One of the safest ways to reduce pain after the surgery is to use ice to numb the jaw area. Hold ice in the mouth as it melts and cools the surgical area to reduce pain. You can do this for the first 2-3 days after the maxillomandibular advancement surgery.
Just like any other surgery, there is risk of getting infections.Your doctor will give you antibiotics to help prevent any infection and also to reduce the swelling of your jaws. If you experience any complications, you need to inform your doctor immediately.
Salt water sprays in each nostril at least 3 times a day for the next 3 weeks is recommended. This will help to wash away all debris and dried blood while keeping your nose clean as you continue to heal. This also keeps the nose moist and will help you to recover quickly.
6. Avoid strenuous physical activity.
You will have to keep off any strenuous physical activity for at least 6 weeks. The most you can do is to walk at least 3 times a day. This will help you to spend time out of bed and reduce the chances of you contracting pneumonia or even blood clots in the legs.
7. Elevate your head during sleep.
In order to reduce blood flow to your head and neck regions, you will have to sleep with your head elevated at least to an angle of 45 degrees for the next 7 days. This will help reduce the swelling and the feel of heaviness in your head.
Does insurance cover jaw surgery for sleep apnea?
Since Jaw Surgery is performed to correct a medical condition most insurance carriers do not consider it cosmetic or an elective procedure. For that reason it is generally covered by insurance, however, you should always consult your insurance carrier to find out the details.
Sleep Apnea is a much more common condition than most people know, for many they just think they are snoring loudly. However, the dangers associated with misdiagnosing a potential condition can be catastrophic. You see, Sleep Apnea is a potentially very dangerous condition that may prevent a person from getting an adequate amount of oxygen to their brain while they are sleeping.
While there is technically no cure for Sleep Apnea, there are several very successful treatments. The most common is the wearing of a CPAP machine while they sleep and the other is a surgical procedure. maxillomandibular advancement and maxillomandibular advancement surgical procedures involve the realignment lower and upper jaw, respectively. If you have been told by a partner that you stop breathing or gasp for air while you sleep, you should seek the advice of your healthcare provider and get a sleep study done.