Obstructive sleep apnoea is the result of a restricted airway and can greatly impact your general health

Sleep apnoea occurs when a patient experiences a restriction of the airway. Because of this restriction, the body doesn’t receive enough air whilst you sleep, causing you to stop breathing for a short period of time. This kick-starts the body’s natural reaction to wake itself up in order to restart breathing. This process can happen hundreds of times each night.

When left untreated, sleep apnoea can cause a wide range of general health problems including fatigue, a lack of focus during the day, in more severe cases it leads to high blood pressure, depression, and an increased chance of stroke and heart disease.

Symptoms of sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is caused by the obstruction of the upper airway and can lead to a range of more serious major health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and an increased risk of stroke.

As most symptoms occur whilst asleep, often a family member of partner will notice the symptoms of sleep apnoea before you do. Even though this is the case, you will still notice many signs throughout the day to suggest you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea.

These include:

  • Constant feeling of being tired
  • Loud snoring or choking whilst alseep
  • Restless sleep
  • Waking up regularly during the night
  • Feeling out of breath, tired, or very thirsty upon waking
  • Grinding your teeth whilst asleep
  • Waking up with a sore jaw
  • Waking up with headaches

Management of obstructive sleep apnoea

There are a number of options available when treating obstructive sleep apnoea. Depending on the severity of the case, treatment can range from a change in diet and lifestyle to surgery. Often the first option is to make changes to the patient’s diet and if the patient is overweight, weight loss can be very effective. This may often be practiced in conjunction with an oral appliance or CPAP machine. These devices can help create a clear path in the airway for effective breathing during the night.

If these options fail due to the severity of the airway restriction, surgery may be necessary. As with non-surgical treatments, there are a number of different surgical options to help alleviate symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea. In cases where a patient has narrow jaws, surgical expansion may be performed. If excess tissue of the soft palate is blocking the airway, it may need to be surgically removed. Your surgeon will discuss the most effective method during your initial consultation.

Obstructive sleep apnoea surgery at OMFS Melbourne

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Most of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea occur while sleeping, so it can difficult to know whether or not you may be suffering from the condition. In many cases, one’s partner actually notices the symptoms first. If you feel tired during the day even after a night’s sleep, or you feel that your sleep is often restless, you may have obstructive sleep apnoea. Some of the other symptoms of the condition include loud snoring, jaw pain upon waking, teeth grinding while sleeping, headaches, and feeling out of breath when you wake up. If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, we encourage you to come in for a consultation.

Obstructive sleep apnoea in adults can be caused by a number of factors, the most common of which is excess weight. In children, some of the most common causes of the condition include enlarged tonsils and orthodontic issues. Besides these factors, certain anatomical features are associated with the condition, many of which are hereditary. These features include a thick neck, a narrow throat, and a round head. If you do have a family history of the condition, we recommend that you let us know, particularly if you are struggling with symptoms like snoring, daytime sleepiness and a general lack of energy, as certain genetically inherited physical characteristics could make you prone to obstructive sleep apnoea.

When left untreated, obstructive sleep apnoea can lead to a number of serious health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. For this reason, it is considered a serious sleep disorder. Besides putting you at risk of serious health problems, obstructive sleep apnoea can also lead to poor performance at work, and underachievement and behavioural problems in children. Issues like ADHD and depression may worsen as a result of poor sleep and daytime sleepiness. We highly recommend proper diagnosis and treatment for anyone suffering from the condition.