Most patients who consult with our ENT specialist about snoring are actually struggling with sleep apnea. This is a condition that affects your breathing while you sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most prevalent form of sleep apnea. This happens when your throat muscles relax so much that your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in.
This can cause snoring and make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you may not be able to breathe well enough to get oxygen into your blood. This can happen dozens or even hundreds of times a night. Want to find out more? Then follow on for Sleep Apnea Test and Treatment: An Overview.
The thing is, that, over time, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and other problems. The good news is that there are things you can do to ease symptoms of sleep apnea. If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your GP. They’ll ask about your symptoms, medical history and possibly have you undergo a physical examination.
Your GP may refer you for a sleep test if they think you have sleep apnea. This usually involves staying overnight in a sleep clinic so staff can monitor your breathing while you sleep. If the results of the sleep test show that you have sleep apnea, there are treatments that can help ease your symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Most people with obstructive sleep apnea snore loudly, but not everyone who snores has the condition. Other common symptoms that obstructive sleep apnea are identified with include:
- Pauses in your breathing during sleep – which may last from a few seconds to minutes
- Choking or gasping during sleep – which may wake you up
- Restless or poor-quality sleep – which can lead to daytime fatigue (tiredness)
- Morning headaches
People with obstructive Sleep Apnea often don’t realize they have it as they usually only experience these symptoms during sleep. A family member or partner is often the first to spot the signs.
Symptoms of obstructive Sleep Apnea usually start gradually and worsen over time. But they can sometimes occur suddenly, especially after gaining weight or taking certain medications such as sedatives (sleeping tablets).
People with obstructive Sleep Apnea are at increased risk of developing other conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes because their fragmented sleeping patterns mean their bodies don’t get enough restorative deep sleep.
Untreated Sleep Apnea can also lead to road accidents due to falling asleep at the wheel due to daytime fatigue from disturbed nights’ sleep.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
There are two types of sleep tests that can be used for diagnosing sleep apnea. They include:
Also called an overnight sleep study, this involves staying overnight in a sleep clinic so staff can monitor your breathing, heart rate, and brain waves while you sleep.
Home Sleep Apnea Test
This is a less invasive test that can be carried out in your own home. You’ll be given a machine to use at night to monitor your breathing. If the results of the sleep test show that you have sleep apnea, there are treatments that can help ease your symptoms.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
The main treatment for this sleep problem is a machine that provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP keeps your airway open by blowing air into your nose through a mask. Other treatments for sleeping apnea include:
These are mouthguards that help to keep your airway open by bringing your lower jaw and tongue forward
In some cases, surgery may be an option to treat sleep apnea. This includes operations to remove excess tissue from the airway or to widen the airway.
Your GP or specialist will discuss the best treatment option for you depending on the severity of your sleep condition and your individual preferences. If you have this sleep disorder, it’s important to make lifestyle changes to help ease your symptoms. These include:
Losing Weight if You’re Overweight
When someone loses weight, the fat around their neck begins to shrink. This decrease in fat leads to an increase in the size of the airway and improved breathing during sleep.
Additionally, when someone loses weight, they often times find that their snoring decreases or stops altogether. Finally, as people lose weight, their body becomes more insulin sensitive which helps to reduce the number of episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that can occur during the night and interrupt sleep.
Giving Up Smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, including reducing your chances of developing sleep apnea. Smoking narrows the airways in your lungs, making it harder to breathe. This can also lead to snoring and other breathing problems that make this sleeping issue more likely.
Quitting smoking won’t cure the apnea, but it will help improve your symptoms if you have the condition. And quitting smoking will also reduce your risk of other serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and makes it more likely that the airway will become blocked during sleep, leading to snoring and sleep apnea. Alcohol also disturbs your normal sleep patterns, preventing you from getting deep, restful sleep. By cutting back on alcohol, you can improve your sleep quality and reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
Sleeping on Your Side Rather than on Your Back
Sleeping on your side can help to keep your airway open and reduce the number of apnea events you experience during the night. This is because when you sleep on your back, your tongue falls back into the throat and partially blocks the airway. When you sleep on your side, gravity pulls your tongue forward, keeping it from obstructing the airway.
Making these changes can help to improve your sleep apnea and overall health. It would be best however, to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have a significant impact on your quality of life. But there are treatments available that can help ease your symptoms. If you think you might have it, see your GP. They’ll be able to advise you on the best course of treatment.
Our team of specialists is here to help also. We offer a range of tests and treatments for sleep apnea and can help you find the right solution for you. Contact us today to book an appointment or visit us at: Allergy & Sinus ENT Specialist Centre, Head & Neck Surgery Singapore, 321 Joo Chiat Place #05-01 Parkway East Specialist Hospital, Singapore 427990. Telephone, and WhatsApp message: +65 9856 8391. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: https://drsomaent.com/