Sleep Apnoea is when the soft tissues including tongue relax too much / collapse against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway leading to reduced airflow or completely blocking the airflow. Sleep Apnoea can cause interruptions in breathing throughout the night, each episode varying in length, an episode ends when the person wakes briefly with a gasp – usually the person has no awareness of these episodes.
Sleep Apnoea can impact your health and quality of life. It can lead to significant medical conditions such as heart disease, increased blood pressure, strokes, depression and diabetes. With the right support it can be managed.
- With Sleep Apnoea your breathing during sleep is reduced or may stop
- You can suffer Sleep Apnoea without having trouble breathing during the day.
- You may have no idea it is happening.
- It can be associated with other medical problems.
- It can be treated with the help of a medical professional.
Studies show that excess body weight and large alcohol consumption are among the triggers that cause Sleep Apnoea. Age, gender, smoking and family history can also play a part. Males are two times more likely than females to experience Sleep Apnoea.
It is important to know a person who suffers from Sleep Apnoea does not remember the episodes of Apnoea and waking during the night. A spouse or family member may witness the gasping or trouble in breathing.
A main symptom is excessive daytime fatigue.
Other symptoms may include but are not limited to:
Disturbances in breathing
Pauses in breathing
Dry mouth / throat
Waking not feeling rested
Increase in weight
Poor concentration and memory loss
Anxiety or depression
The first step to finding the treatment that will best suit your needs is to have an overnight sleep study. This is done either in a hospital or at home. Your GP must refer you to a Sleep Specialist Clinic for this study.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a small air pump that is worn during the night, it is designed too hold your throat open. It stops snoring and the machine noise is minimal (quieter than your snoring!)
Oral Appliances also know as Mandibular Advancement Device are designed by highly trained Dental Technicians and fitted by a Dentist. It is not suitable for all cases- it looks like a double mouth guard covering both your upper and lower teeth, it then clips together to hold the jaw forward keeping the airway open. These devices are particularly useful for snoring and mild Sleep Apnoea.
Surgery is available however it is generally the last resort. Different surgical procedures include removal or tonsils or reducing tongue size.
Regular exercise, loss of excessive body weight, avoiding alcohol can also offer relief of symptoms.
It is important to talk to your Dentist or GP for more information and a full assessment.