Sleep Apnoea Treatment

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Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a condition that occurs during sleep. Apnoea means “no breath” or “stopped breathing”. When an individual has sleep apnoea, the air stops flowing into their lungs for 10 seconds or longer, and during this period, the individual ceases to breathe.

Most of the time, the individuals suffering do not realise that they have this condition. It can occur more than 30 times an hour and this constant triggering of breathing can put a strain on the body. Many people report feelings of exhaustion, even after waking up after a whole night of sleeping — this may cause long-term health effects.

Types of Sleep Apnoea 

There are two main types of sleep apnoea – obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and central sleep apnoea (CSA).

Obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common type of sleep apnoea. It occurs when your upper airways become completely or partially blocked during sleep. In an attempt to bypass the narrowing, the air is forced through the obstruction in a turbulent airflow that is interpreted as snoring. This narrow passage can cause loud snoring, and when air is unable to pass through the obstruction, apnoea occurs. Individuals that wake up during this episode describe an uncomfortable choking sensation that can be quite frightening to experience.

On the other hand, central sleep apnoea is not as common. CSA takes place when the brain does not signal to the body to take a breath. Not much snoring is observed during CSA since the person lacks the drive to breathe. As a result, central sleep apnoea frequently goes unnoticed by most people.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea 

The following symptoms and signs are commonly observed in patients with sleep apnoea:

  • Snoring
  • Gasping for breath or paused breathing during sleep
  • Frequent wakefulness and restless sleep
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor memory
  • Mood swings

Diagnosing Sleep Apnoea

During the consultation with a sleep apnoea specialist, the doctor will take a complete medical history and ask a number of questions to learn more about their sleeping habits and other necessary information. To determine the type of sleep apnoea the patient is suffering from, a video nasendoscopy will be performed to find out if there are any obstructions in the upper respiratory airways. A physical examination of the jaw, mouth and neck will also be performed.

Additionally, a sleep study may be conducted to diagnose the severity of obstructive or central sleep apnoea. 

There are two types of sleep studies:

  • Ambulatory sleep study: This portable sleep study monitoring is usually carried out at home.
  • Polysomnography sleep study: This overnight monitoring is carried out at a hospital or a sleep laboratory; this study cannot be performed at home as it uses sensors that measure brain activity.

The findings from these studies will help guide your sleep apnoea treatment plan.

Types of Sleep Apnoea Treatment 

Sleep apnoea treatment helps address breathing issues such as sleep apnoea and chronic snoring. This will improve the patient’s overall quality of sleep. Based on the findings of the sleep study, the sleep apnoea specialist will decide on the best course of treatment.

Here are some of the key sleep apnoea treatment methods:

  • CPAP therapy: The CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) treatment involves the patient wearing a mask over their mouth and nose during sleep. This mask is connected to a machine that will deliver a constant air pressure to prevent the upper respiratory airways from collapsing. This will allow the patient to breathe more normally while sleeping.
  • Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation, reduced alcohol consumption and regular exercise will be advised to improve the patient’s health. Losing weight can help reduce the tissue surrounding the neck area, thereby decreasing upper airway obstruction and facilitating better breathing.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be considered as a last resort for patients who don’t show any signs of improvement even after multiple sleep apnoea treatments. Upper airway constriction will be the main focus during the surgery. Minimally invasive procedures such as turbinate reduction may be carried out depending on the patient’s suitability. However, the sleep apnoea specialist may need to turn to more invasive procedures such as UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) with tonsillectomy to remove certain tissues in the throat.

Risks Associated with Sleep Apnoea Treatments

Most treatments for sleep apnoea are relatively safe. However, there can still be some risks associated with it. CPAP therapy can sometimes cause discomfort in patients when wearing bulky and constrictive equipment to sleep. There have been instances of patients feeling bloated due to the high pressure that causes them to chew and swallow air while they sleep.

Like any invasive procedure, surgery for sleep apnoea can have complications. Such risks include significant bleeding, problems with anaesthesia, airway issues and allergic reactions. Moreover, there is a chance for sleep apnoea to reappear, sometimes even years after the procedure has been carried out. This makes it necessary for patients to rely on CPAP and dental devices to reduce the severity of sleep apnoea. 

Consult Our Qualified Sleep Apnoea and Snoring Specialists in Singapore 

At Amandela ENT Head & Neck Center, we provide subspecialty care that you can trust and rely on throughout your recovery journey. Talk to our experienced sleep apnoea and snoring specialists to get expert advice and support for your sleep apnoea treatment today.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Cure Sleep Apnoea by Myself?

Some patients may benefit from following some of the remedies shown below:

  • Regular exercise and weight loss
  • Avoid alcohol misuse
  • Smoking cessation
  • Abstain from taking certain medications, such as sleeping pills
  • Have a good sleeping posture

What Are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnoea?

  • Headache (mainly in the morning)
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Mood swings and depression
  • Gasping or choking sensation on waking up
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Oedema in the legs (swelling)

What Will Happen If I Ignore Sleep Apnoea?

If the condition is left untreated, it can decrease your quality of life and it has the potential to cause a number of conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. You may also notice low productivity and reduced energy with this condition.

Which Sleep Apnoea Specialist Should I Consult to Treat My Condition?

While there are many specialists who can treat this condition, ENT doctors can evaluate your condition as they are trained in treating any ailment that involves the head and neck region.

Amandela ENT Head & Neck Center Mount Elizabeth Novena
Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road #10-45/47
Singapore 329563
T: 6694 1990
F: 6694 1992
Biz Reg No. 201210742D

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