According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, approximately 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Though there are three types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. This is a serious condition that affects more than just a person’s sleep; sleep apnea can lead to chronic heart failure, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other heart problems. It is also linked to type 2 diabetes, depression, and many car accidents.
If you suspect you’re one of the 22 million Americans suffering with sleep apnea, discuss those concerns with your primary care physician first. In some cases, he may be able to treat you on his own. Otherwise, he will refer you to a specialist.
Here are five types of doctors who can treat sleep apnea:
1. Sleep specialists
Sleep specialists are who most people think of when it comes to sleep issues. These board-certified sleep medicine doctors have completed specialized training to be able to diagnose any sleep-related disorder. Most patients with sleep apnea do get a diagnosis from a sleep specialist before visiting with other types of specialists. Sleep medicine doctors often refer patients to one of the four other doctors for a specific type of treatment.
2. ENT Doctors
Ear, nose, and throat doctors, also called otolaryngologists, specialize in the treatment and management of the ear, nose, throat, and the surrounding structures. Sleep apnea is sometimes caused by having a naturally small airway or other parts of the face or head that narrow the airway.
ENT doctors have a number of surgical solutions to correct obstructive sleep apnea.
Neurologists work with patients whose brain and nerves contribute to their sleep apnea. In some cases, the brain doesn’t signal to the throat muscles to stay stiff while your sleep or the tongue becomes too relaxed. A neurologist can use surgical means to correct these problems.
Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals can help sleep apnea patients make behavior and lifestyle changes like losing weight and quitting smoking. While these can certainly help patients sleep better, it may not be the best treatment plan for patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
One way behavioral health experts are extremely beneficial is to help patients manage depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder that are common effects of poor sleep.
5. Oral Surgeons
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in surgical procedure that involve the mouth, teeth, face, and jaws. As a result, oral surgeons successfully treat mild, moderate, and severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea through conservative and surgical means. These treatments include behavior medications, oral appliances, an air pressure device, and surgery.
Many obstructive sleep apnea patients experience extremely successful results from conservative treatment like oral appliances. However, it’s not always successful. Depending on the severity of your condition and the cause of your sleep apnea, an oral surgeon may recommend on of these procedures:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This procedure requires partially removing the uvula and edge of the soft palate.
- Hyoid Suspension: This procedure helps stabilize the region right above the Adam’s apple by securing the hyoid bone to the thyroid cartilage.
- Genioglossus Advancement (GGA): This procedure focuses on tightening the front tongue tendon. The surgery is typically completed along with one of the above operations.
- Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA): The oral surgeon will open the upper airway by surgically moving the upper and lower jaws forward. In many cases, this technique is the only option for opening the air passageway.
Visit Our Oral Surgeon
At Texas Oral Surgery Specialists, Dr. Chris Tye offers superior treatments to improve his patients’ quality of life. To learn how he can treat your obstructive sleep apnea, contact our Grapevine office today at (817) 552-3223.