Severe Sleep Apnea- Breathing Difficulties. Anatomical problems or other cause? (photo)
Doctor Answers 9
Sleep apnea and proper diagnosis
Sleep apnea is very under diagnosed. It is difficult to get an assessment based on symptoms alone - usually the bed partner can identify the problem or witness the apneic events. I would see a sleep medicine specialist and ask for a polysomnogram (sleep study). This will give the most objective breathing, oxygen, and neurological information during your sleep. It will also be able to tell if you have an obstructive or another cause to the events. From the photo alone it doesn't appear you have a clear dentofacial cause, but it is a limited photo - a proper CT scan or cephalogram would help your diagnosis as well from a surgical planning perspective. Good luck.
OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)
Obstructive sleep apnea is a result of breathing being obstructed at night and it sounds like this is a possibility. As for fainting, it can have an impact on you during the day because you aren't getting the restorative sleep you need. Over time, this can have a major impact on your health. There are a lot of elements to consider in diagnosing sleep apnea and the only way to know for sure is to specifically request that you are screened for it. There are a few different ways to do this. Sleep studies can be done at sleep clinics and where a mild or moderate case of OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) is suspected, patients may also be able to sleep at home with a device that measures stats throughout the night and provides those details to your doctor / dentist. An oral appliance can be crafted by a dentist for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. A CPAP machine may be recommended if you are diagnosed with a more severe case of sleep apnea. Good luck.
Get a sleep test
The ONLY way to know if you have sleep apnea is from a sleep test, either a PSG (polysomnogram) or HST/OCST (home sleep test/outside center sleep test). The PSG is best, but the others can shed some light (but may indicate you need to do the PSG). Once we know what your sleep is like, advice is easier.
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It may be anatomical, it may be muscle spasms or it could be something else. Even acupuncture would be an avenue to pursue.
I wish that I could be more helpful--don't give up.
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