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What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing involuntarily stops and starts. Repetitive episodes of upper airway blockage during sleep, is called obstructive sleep apnoea. However, in central sleep apnoea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.

Possible Causes: 

Sleep apnoea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnoea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain, and the rest of the body, may not get enough oxygen.

Risk Factors: 

There are many types of sleep apnoea: obstructive sleep apnoea, central sleep apnoea, and complex sleep apnoea syndrome also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnoea.

Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnoea include: 

  • Excess weight and thicker neck.
  • Chronic conditions like tonsils or adenoids that narrow the airways. 
  • Being male, being older and having a family history. 
  • Drinking alcohol, using sedatives or tranquilisers and smoking.
  • Allergies or nasal congestion.

Risk factors for central sleep apnoea include:

  • Older people and being male.
  • Disorders of the heart or a stroke. 
  • Using narcotic pain medications. 

Signs & Symptoms: 

If you feel listless and tired after sleeping all night, and you tend to snore loudly then these are definite indications that you have sleep apnoea.

Some sleep apnoea symptoms are gasping for air during sleep, short episodes when you stop breathing, a dry mouth and waking up with a headache. Other symptoms are insomnia, hypersomnia, irritability, moodiness and low attention span. 

Diagnosis: 

When you visit Medcare, you can get the right sleep apnoea diagnosis and know which type you suffer from. 

  • Obstructive sleep apnoea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
  • Central sleep apnoea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnoea syndrome which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea.

The diagnosis often commences with overnight monitoring of your breathing patterns at a sleep centre. Our experts perform sleep apnoea tests like nocturnal polysomnography to determine the kind of sleep apnoea that is troubling you.

If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea, our specialist will co-ordinate with other ENT doctors to check for blockage in your nose or throat. Similarly, you will be referred to a cardiologist or a neurologist if you display symptoms of central sleep apnoea.

Treatment Options: 

The initial recommendation from the doctors at Medcare for sleep apnoea treatment may be lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking.

  • Next in the line of treatment are therapies like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Other airway pressure devices like auto-CPAP or BPA also are available. 
  • For some people, another option is to wear an oral appliance to keep your throat open so that you can breathe while you sleep. 
  • Surgery is usually the last resort if nothing else works. However, most ENT specialists recommend trial of at least three months before contemplating surgery. Tissue removal, tissue shrinkage through radiofrequency ablation, jaw repositioning or maxillomandibular advancement are some surgeries, you may consider. 
  • In severe cases doctors may recommend implants, nerve stimulation and finally creating a new air passageway (tracheostomy) if all other treatments have failed.
FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • What are the problems that are caused by sleep apnoea?

    A: When you have sleep apnoea it is not possible to have a restful, good night’s sleep so you always display daytime fatigue and irritability. You are at risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. Other conditions that you may develop are type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. Besides, your partner may be sleep-deprived due to your loud snoring!

  • Are there any home remedies to cure sleep apnoea?

    A: Maintain a healthy lifestyle- lose weight, exercise, avoid alcohol and stop smoking.
    Stop taking tranquilisers and sleeping pills and sleep on your side or stomach rather than on your back. These home remedies should be quite effective but if symptoms persist, visit a sleep specialist.

  • What is a CPAP device?

    A: The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. This is a sleep apnoea machine that blows air with continuous pressure down your throat, when you sleep at night, and keeps the airways open.

    A mask that fits over your nose is held in place with straps, and a motor blows the air. Apnoea patients find that the CPAP machine improves sleep quality, reduces snoring and lowers blood pressure. As the quality of night time sleep improves, there is less tiredness during the day.

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