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.