Snoring / Sleep Apnea
Snoring / Sleep Apnea
Snoring occurs when the tissues in your throat vibrate due to air that flows past them, resulting in a harsh sound. Snoring can happen to anyone, but for some, it becomes a chronic problem that can lead to further problems if not looked into. It can also be a nuisance to your partner. Snoring management begins by making a few lifestyle changes such as losing weight , cutting down cigarettes, and avoiding alcohol. It can also be treated medically.
Snoring is often associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder where loud snoring is followed by periods where there is no breathing. The more severe the degree of OSA, the longer the periods of no breathing which can lead to further complications as time passes.
Not everyone who snores has OSA. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you might be at risk for OSA:
- Breathing pauses noticed by your partner whilst you are asleep
- Excessive daytime tiredness
- Difficulty in concentration
- Morning headaches
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- High blood pressure
- Behavioural issues or poor attention span (in children)
Addressing snoring begins with an ENT doctor’s evaluation of your breathing passage. As the breathing passage is fairly long, it is important to decipher which part is causing obstruction to your breathing.
After clinical evaluation, the doctor will proceed to administer an overnight sleep study. This will be done in the comfort of your own home. The study will evaluate severity of obstruction, how low your oxygen levels drop during obstruction and a few other important parameters.
After clinching the diagnosis of Obstructive sleep apnoea, your ENT doctor will advise treatment based on the severity of your sleep apnoea.
This would include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Oral appliances: Dental device which maintain mouth patency during sleep.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (also known as CPAP): This method involves wearing a mask while sleeping, which is connected to a machine which channels oxygenated air into your breathing passage so that your air passages maintain patency whilst you are asleep.
- Surgery: Depending on the severity of your OSA, surgery can help to improve your OSA or be adjunctive to your CPAP treatment. Common OSA surgeries are tonsillectomy to remove enlarged tonsils, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) to remove oropharyngeal obstruction and open up the passageway, and nasal surgery to open up the nasal airway.
Preventive measures for snoring and sleep apnea could include the following lifestyle changes and habits:
- Lose weight (if you are overweight)
- Avoid alcohol and/or sedatives
- Quit smoking
- Get enough sleep
- Treat nasal congestion