Loud snoring. Morning headaches. Lack of energy during the day. If you suffer from these symptoms, you may have a serious sleep condition known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder which causes a person to stop breathing for a period of time during sleep. Sleep apnea affects 22 million Americans. Jeffrey Hockett knows all too well about the ways sleep apnea can drag you down.
“I would wake up a number of times through the night, so uncomfortable and completely covered in sweat,” says Hockett. “I’d wake up the next day feeling groggy and tired, it took its toll on me. My doctor, Dr. Tipirneni, is easy going, honest and told me everything to expect up front. They were very professional. It was a good experience and the surgery worked well.”
Kiran Tipirneni, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board certified adult and pediatric otolaryngologist, has helped Hockett and many others throughout Central Florida and Orlando suffering with sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you stop breathing or have shallow breaths while you sleep. This is a serious medical problem and can be life-threatening. In addition, the pauses in breathing during sleep can keep you from getting a restful sleep, causing you to be groggy or sleepy the next day.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and a mixture of the two. In obstructive sleep apnea, the throat muscles relax and block your airway during sleep. In central sleep apnea, your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep because the brain does not send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Dr. Tipirneni stresses the importance of treating sleep apnea and explains, “If apnea is not treated there can be long term problems such as increased risk of high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease and increased risk of stroke. Sleep apnea is definitely a medical problem that needs to be treated.”
What are the Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?
Treatments for sleep apnea include sleep apnea oral devices, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, or surgery. Candidates of sleep apnea surgery are those that have documented sleep apnea and who do not respond well to the CPAP devices.
Hockett elected to have surgery with Dr.Tipirneni in February of 2014 and says the surgery was successful in treating his sleep apnea. Hockett, like many sleep apnea sufferers, says he hated the alternative treatments he tried before going through with the surgery. “I just couldn’t handle that mask or those mouthpieces anymore,” says Hockett. “I decided to go with surgery when I knew the CPAP machine wasn’t working for me. I had the surgery and it was great. It worked very well.”
Your ear, nose and throat specialist will be able to diagnosis the severity of your sleep apnea and from there decide which procedure would be best for you.
“There are different types of surgery for obstructive sleep apnea. Surgery depends on the level of obstruction and degree of the apnea,” says Dr. Tipirneni. “If the patient has mild to moderate sleep apnea, sometimes we discuss an oral appliance or consider a basic level of sleep apnea surgery. This type of surgery is where we remove excess tissue in the oral cavity such as the tonsils or trimming the palate. In more severe cases we do multilevel surgery, where we address the air space of the nose, oral cavity, base of tongue and the lower area of the throat.”
What are the Results of Sleep Apnea Surgery?
It is important to understand that each type of surgery is customized for you and will depend on the specific problem you are having.
Hockett had multilevel surgery, where the doctor combines multiple surgeries. For Hockett the surgery was well worth it. “The results were overnight,” he says. “The airflow was nothing like it was before, I could actually sleep through the night. Before the surgery, I’d wake up every hour and wake up feeling groggy. Now [after the surgery] I can have a good night’s sleep and I never wake up groggy.”
Recovering from Sleep Apnea Surgery
The results of the surgery will depend on the severity of sleep apnea, the type of procedure and the anatomy of the patient.
“Within three weeks it was healed, the pain was pretty much gone,” says Hockett. “After about two-three months all of my taste buds came back. After two or three post surgery visits we were done and I haven’t been back for a year.”
If you would like a consultation regarding snoring and sleep apnea procedures please call (407)644-4883 or click here to schedule an appointment.