what is sleep apnoea?
Snoring is a common thing. Many people have had to put up with family members or bed partners that snore every night. It is usually seen as a normal occurrence and something that is disruptive, but not harmful.
….but what if snoring itself can be a threat to your life?
Snoring is the sound made by the vibration of tissue within the airway when turbulent air passes through it. This happens in areas of the breathing passage that are narrow or partially blocked during sleep.
There can be multiple reasons and multiple areas which can be obstructed in snorers, but largely it can be anywhere from the nose all the way down to just above the voice box in the throat.
how is snoring
Snoring itself may just be habitual, but in a large number of snorers, the obstruction can be enough to cause oxygen levels to drop during sleep. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
This has 2 effects:
Disturbed sleep: The ongoing lack of oxygen causes the brain to wake up multiple times during the night in order to maintain sufficient oxygen levels. This leads to the feeling of exhaustion no matter how much you sleep. Patients may fall asleep while driving, at meetings, watching television or simply when just sitting still.
Long term health problems: The chronic lack of oxygen during sleep causes accumulated brain and heart damage which increases the risk of snorers dying of a stroke or heart attack. They will also have an increased risk of developing diabetes and hypertension.
what are the symptoms of osa?
Snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness tend to be the main symptoms that could indicate you have OSA.
Other symptoms that may be experienced include:
Breathing pauses or choking during sleep.
Multiple trips to the toilet at night.
Headache and dry throat on waking in the morning.
Not all patients will have the symptoms listed.
I suspect i have osa. how do i confirm this?
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is best to consult an ENT surgeon trained in sleep medicine and surgery for assessment and evaluation. This usually consists of a full history and physical examination as well as endoscopy to locate areas of potential obstruction.
Finally a sleep study will be arranged in order to study the patterns and severity of obstruction if OSA is suspected.
how do we treat osa?
OSA treatment tends to be highly customised for each individual as risk factors, anatomy and preferences can vary widely between patients. Generally surgery, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, or both are used as the primary treatment. Additional strategies to deal with risk factors such as obesity and poor sleeping habits will also be used if necessary.
For a full detailed explanation it is advised to seek treatment with a trained ENT surgeon for further information.