This article is courtesy of Dr. John Steer.
Sleep disturbances, which include Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Snoring, are being increasingly realised as significant dangers to health. As such an enormous amount of investigation has and is taking place. It's well documented that although the actual mechanisms by which sleep restores one... the brain is after all active while you're asleep... it is generally acknowledged that 8 hours is the basic requirement for us to wake refreshed.
When we fall asleep we lose muscle tone with the result that the upper airway essentially "collapses." Many factors are involved and obstruction can take place at a number of levels.
In the case of simple snoring it's largely the bed partner who suffers. This can be to an extreme degree with, on occasion, breaking up of a partnership and often needing to sleep in a separate room. The treatment for snoring varies from medical to surgical or a combination. A full examination by an ENT specialist of the mouth of the surrounding areas is absolutely essential for an assessment. Equally important is the sleep partner's attendance at the consultation.
OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA
This is a progression of snoring. In the former the patient doesn't stop breathing, whereas in apnoea, this by definition occurs. During this period the level of oxygen in the blood goes down and the carbon dioxide level rises which stimulates the breathing centre.
It's thus obvious that if you have repeated episodes of apnoea and a drop in oxygen levels in the blood, you're going to end up with increasing symptoms.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Sudden waking, gasping and choking
Poor concentration and reduced work performance
Significantly more driving accidents
Use of sleeping tablets
Use of tranquillizers
The first thing to do is to consult a doctor who understands the head and neck. This is usually an Ear Nose and Throat specialist. It's always a good idea to bring your partner along to give input into your symptoms.
After examination of the head and neck a sleep study is done to acquire the information as to exactly what occurs while you're asleep. Without a sleep study one cannot arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
HOME BASED SLEEP STUDY
To measure exactly what is happening during your sleep a home based study is carried out. Jeanette Farrell a highly trained nursing sister is an expert in this field and runs the home based sleep study group. She'll explain exactly what the study involves and with the results, she and I will be able to give you a comprehensive diagnosis and offer treatment suggestions.
Although, in some patients surgery has a part to play, most cases of significant Obstructive Sleep Apnoea benefit from a nasal CPAP mask and machine.
This consists of a snugly fitted mask, which when worn over the nose and connected to a machine delivers air at constant pressure, thus splinting your airway open. The obstruction is relieved and significant reduction in symptoms produced.
THE BENEFITS OF TREATING OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA
Relief of snoring and obstructive apnoea
Improvement in sleep quality
Relief of daytime sleepiness
Reduction of cardio vascular risk can occur in both moderate and severe sleep apnoea cases
COMPLICATIONS OF OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Cardio vascular disease
Mood and personality disturbances
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