Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common disorder where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. The reduced airflow limits oxygen supply to the body and disrupts the quality of sleep. Like snoring, OSA results from the relaxation in the muscles of the throat, however in the case of OSA there may be a complete collapse in the muscles and blockage of the airway which leads to other serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes.
Unfortunately, the pathway to diagnosis can be frustrating and time consuming. Here at SleepFit we are committed to reducing the time to diagnosis, treatment and a good night’s sleep.
There are many different treatment options available for OSA. What works for one person may not work for another.
Do I have Sleep Apnoea?
Typical symptoms of sleep apnoea are:
- Feeling unrefreshed when you wake up
- Sleepiness and fatigue when you are awake
- Being overweight
- Having a dry mouth, headache or sore throat in the morning
Overnight symptoms may be noticed by a partner, such as pauses in breathing followed by a gasp or snoring noise. The person with OSA may wake up from this, but not remember the awakening. This cycle can repeat itself, often hundreds of times a night.
Being overweight can be both a contributor and cause of OSA. For anyone who is overweight looking to avoid or reduce the effects of sleep apnoea, then weight loss may be an effective treatment option. As people get older and their body fat distribution changes the likeliness of sleep apnoea occurring increases. Avoiding alcohol consumption can also reduce the effects of OSA.
Sleeping on your back can also cause sleep apnoea. This is because as you sleep, your muscles and your tongue relax, dropping backwards at times and you can block your airways.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is considered an effective treatment for sleep apnoea. This means wearing a face mask to bed that is designed to keep your airways open through the night. There are many different masks and many different machines and finding the right combination to suit you is important.
Oral appliances are fitted by a sleep dentist. You wear the appliance while sleeping to push your jaw and tongue slightly forward. These devices are known as Mandibular Advancement Splints. The slight change in jaw and tongue positioning caused by the device allows your throat to open up. This solution is offered to those who suffer from mild-moderate obstructive sleep apnoea.
Surgery should be determined by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist or an oromaxillary surgeon.