I think I may have sleep apnea: What steps should I take?

Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to a variety of serious health conditions, like high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm and stroke. Fortunately, effective treatment is available for this condition, and it can improve your health and your quality of life. Since sleep apnea is often accompanied by loud snoring, it may also give a boost to a spouse or partner!

If you’ve noticed symptoms of sleep apnea, like daytime drowsiness or frequent headaches and/or sore throats upon waking, the first step you will need to take is completing a sleep study to get an official diagnosis. This procedure does not cause discomfort, and many times it can even be completed in your own home. It merely measures certain signals from your body that can indicate apneic periods during sleep.

Do you have any of these symptoms? Take our Airway Questionnaire for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

After you receive a conclusive diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, you may want to consult with a sleep apnea surgeon to learn more about your treatment options.

Sleep apnea is typically caused when the airway opening is obstructed periodically during sleep, subsequently reducing the flow of oxygen to the brain. It can be caused by a number of structural issues in the nose or the oral cavity, including excessive soft tissue at the rear of the throat, jaw deformities, large tonsils or a deviated septum, among other issues.

Depending on the specific structural problem at the root of your case, your sleep apnea surgeon may perform a number of procedures to give you relief from your symptoms. For example, surgical removal of any excess tissue near the airway opening can be tremendously beneficial. Similarly, if the position of the jaw is at fault, it will need to be corrected to give the patient relief from sleep apnea.

Getting effective treatment for sleep apnea will protect your health and well being. If you are experiencing symptoms that could be sleep apnea, complete a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis and then consult with our sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Larry M. Wolford, to determine what intervention will be most effective in your case.

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Larry Wolford’s office using our online contact form or call 214-828-9115.

Condylar hyperplasia (CH) is a generic term describing enlargement of the condyle.  There are a number of different condylar pathologies that enlarge the mandibular condyle, with subsequent adverse effects on the morphology and function of the TMJ and mandible.  This may result in the development or worsening of a dentofacial deformity such as; mandibular prognathism (symmetric or asymmetric), and unilateral enlargement of the condyle, ramus, and body, facial asymmetry and malocclusion. 

Wolford has developed a simple, but encompassing classification that will allow the clinician to better understand the nature of the various CH pathologies, progression, and treatment options that have proven to eliminate the pathological process and provide optimal functional and esthetic outcomes.  The classification (Table 2 and Figure 29) also begins with the most common occurring form of CH and progresses to the least common occurring form.

CH Type 1:  This condition develops during puberty, is an accelerated and prolonged growth aberration of the normal condylar growth mechanism, is self-limiting but can grow into the 20’s, and can occur bilaterally (CH Type 1A) or unilaterally (CH Type 1B).

CH Type 2:  These condylar pathologies can develop at any age (although 2/3s develop in the 2nd decade), are unilateral condylar vertical and/or horizontal over-growth deformities, and are the most common occurring mandibular condylar tumors; osteochondroma (CH Type 2A) and less common osteoma (CH Type 2B).

CH Type 3:  These are other rare benign causing condylar enlargement. 

CH Type 4:  These are malignant conditions that can cause condylar enlargement.

The more common forms of CH (Types 1 and 2) will be presented relative to the clinical and radiographic findings, growth characteristics, effects on the jaws and facial structures, histology, and treatment considerations that are highly predictable in the elimination of the pathology and provide optimal treatment outcomes. 

FIGURE 29 Description

A-C) normal TMJ with balanced joint spaces.
D-F) CH Type 1 with relatively normal condylar shape, elongated condylar head and neck, and narrow joint space related to thin articular disc or displaced disc.  In the coronal view the condylar head is more rounded.
G-I) CH Type 2Av; an osteochondroma with a vertical growth vector without significant horizontal condylar enlargement or exophytic horizontal growth. This is a “young” osteochondroma with only about 3 years of growth.
J-L) CH Type 2Ah; an osteochondroma with horizontal (as well as vertical) enlargement of the condyle and exophytic outgrowth of the tumor. This tumor has been present for 6 years. Notice the significant increased vertical height of the mandibular body and ramus.

FIGURE 29