Snoring/Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (Snoring)

You may not be aware that you snore during sleep until your bed mate tells you. It could be normal for some but to those who repetitively snore, it’s another story. People who have repeated snoring pattern could have a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

Obstructive breathing patterns during sleep can range from snoring to periods of true apnoea. This can lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, poor work performance and even cardiovascular disorders. Oral maxillofacial surgeons work together with other medical specialists to provide treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition during sleep where breathing can become shallow because of a certain obstruction that prevents the air from entering the lungs. With OSA, there are periods of complete obstruction (apnoea) of air flow to the lungs or partial obstruction (hypopnea) where the airflow is reduced. These obstructions result in reduction of oxygen taken up by the blood (oxygen desaturation) and leads to disruption to your sleep (sleep fragmentation).

For some people, breathing can even stop that is why sleep apnoea shouldn’t be ignored. It needs to be checked and corrected as soon as possible. Causes of this condition include obesity and by having a thick neck. But for most cases, it’s caused by having small airways in your mouth.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnoea sufferers may experience loud snoring, headaches, anxiety and depression, daytime sleepiness, forgetfulness, irritability, and other related issues. Most of the time, the partners and bed mates are the ones to witness the loud snoring, choking, and breathing cessation while the sufferer is asleep.

How is OSA diagnosed?

If you had experienced some of the symptoms mentioned above, you may have OSA. The best way to diagnose is through an overnight sleep study where your sleep, oxygen levels, and breathing are measured by a specialist.

How do I know if I have simple snoring or OSA?

If you have loud snoring almost every night, awakening at nights, bed partners witnessing you choking or stop breathing when you sleep, you are likely to have OSA. If you experience some of these symptoms, please seek help with a doctor who can arrange a sleep study (overnight polysomnography) to ascertain your sleep condition.

Can Children Have OSA?

Yes, children can suffer from OSA too. It is crucial to diagnose and treat these young patients early as OSA can result in poor physical development and inability to concentrate in school. It is important to note that many of these children suffering from OSA were misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

What is a sleep study or Overnight Polysomnography?

It is a test carried out during your sleep to determine if you have a sleep disorder and the severity of the condition. There are different types of sleep study setups.

  • Level 1 study is a comprehensive study conducted in a sleep lab with a technician present during the study. This is the gold standard of all the sleep study setups.
  • Level 2 study replicates similar details to Level 1 study but it is carried out using a comprehensive portable device in the hospital ward or at the patient’s home.
  • Level 3 study is a more limited study of the above but is unable to monitor sleep staging or sleep disruption.
  • Level 4 study is a very limited (single to dual channel) study that is used mainly as a screening tool.

What are the different treatments for OSA?

Treatments for OSA vary based on the severity of the condition. For mild cases, weight loss, improving sleep hygiene, and decreasing the amount of alcohol intake most especially in the evening are what they should just do. But for sufferers who have moderate to severe OSA, invasive treatment is required. This includes soft tissue surgeries, such as nasal surgery, soft palate implant and reduction, adenoid and tonsil removal, tongue reduction, and as well as hard tissue surgeries, such as chin and jaw advancement surgeries.

What are the different treatment modalities for OSA?

A trained specialist will be the best person to advise you on your treatment modality based on your condition. There are different types of treatment modalities depending on the severity of the condition and they can be divided into:

  • Conservative treatment: weight loss, sleep hygiene
  • Non-invasive treatment: Mouth guard (oral appliance), Face mask with Positive Airway Pressure (PAP)
  • Invasive treatment: soft tissue surgeries (nasal surgery, soft palate implant/reduction, adenoid and tonsil removal and tongue reduction) and hard tissue surgeries (chin and jaw advancement surgeries)

What happens if OSA is not treated?

If OSA is undiagnosed or not treated, it can cause hypertension, stroke, and other serious health problems. It can also increase the risk of diabetes.

Additionally, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea affects relationships. Sufferer’s partner or family members stay awake to make sure the patient will be able to breathe again. Having lack of sleep for waking up many times during night time is not good as it causes irritability, stress, and even depression that will greatly impact people’s overall health and lifestyle.

Overall, it causes a lot of complication not just to the patients but to their loved ones. Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnoea immediately reduces these health risks.

If you believe you’re experiencing Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, it’s best to consult with an expert immediately. Make an appointment with us today to book a consultation with one of our experts.