Sleep Apnoea

About Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a serious sleep condition in which breathing stops and starts again. You might have sleep apnoea if snore loudly and you feel worn-out even after a night's sleep. Breathing pauses may last from seconds to minutes. They can occur five times or more in an hour, sometimes even more than a  hundred times. Generally, normal breathing will start again, sometimes with a choking sound or noisy snort. Sleep apnoea is a chronic (ongoing) illness that disturbs your sleep. If your breathing pauses or gets shallow, you will move out of heavy sleep and into light sleep. Therefore, the level of your sleep is very poor, which will make you tired throughout the day. Sleep apnoea is a major cause of excessive day time sleepiness. Many people who have sleep apnoea do not know they have it since it only occurs while asleep. Your bed partner or family members may be the first to see signs of sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is categorized into obstructive and central. The most common is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). In this condition, the airway is partially or completely obstructed. This will cause breathing pauses or irregular breathing. During breathing, the air that moves past the blockage may cause heavy snoring. OSA is common in over-weight people, but it may affect anyone.

Central sleep apnoea is different to OSA, in which the brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing.

Is treating OSA important?

Treating obstructive sleep apnoea is extremely important to your health. When untreated, sleep apnoea often causes morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, concentration issues and memory loss. Sleep apnoea may also increase your risks of falling asleep while driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnoea can lead to serious health problems. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Chronic acid reflux
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Premature death

 How is OSA diagnosed?

The diagnosis of sleep apnoea is based on a sleep study performed at home or in hospital (Polysomnography), along with clinical signs and symptoms. A sleep physician is the only qualified professional to diagnose and manage OSA.   In case you have a sleep issue, consider keeping a sleep journal for one to two weeks. Bring the journal to your next medical session. Take note of when you fall asleep, wake up, and take naps. Also take note of how much you sleep every night, how attentive and rested you feel each morning and how sleepy you feel at different times throughout the day. This information will help your physician to find out if you have a sleep disorder.

OSA treatment

Although a diagnosis of sleep apnoea may be scary, it is a very treatable problem. Research shows that oral appliance therapy (Mandibular Advancement Splint) is an effective treatment option for snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome and obstructive sleep apnoea. An oral appliance is used at night during sleep. Oral appliances keep your jaw forward to help maintain an open upper airway.

Many patients consider oral appliances to be more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances also are quiet, portable and easy to care for.

Nevertheless, CPAP is the common first line treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnoea. The CPAP is a mask like device that will cover your mouth and nose, giving a continuous stream of air that will keep your airway open when you sleep. Most CPAP machines are the size of a large tissue box

There is no best treatment to any condition, when it comes to treatment plans it is very important to consider all the options. Many effective treatment plans for sleep apnoea are available but you have to do your research and weigh up all the pros and cons.