Sleep Apnea occurs when breathing stops during sleep, due to blocking in the upper airways. There are various reasons why this can happen, and it is usually more common in older people whose weight has increased gradually over the years. If you allow this to go untreated, it will ultimately cause greater health problems to occur. Get a referral to consult the best otolaryngologist in Singapore.
What is Sleep Apnea?
As we get older, the muscles in our throat and larynx can become a bit loose and floppy, and as we breathe at night, often with our mouth wide open, we start to snore. Another cause is consuming too much alcohol before going to bed. The snoring is caused by the blocking in the airway, and this is something that the ENT doctor can correct surgically.
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:
- Morning headaches, following restless sleep.
- Waking up a lot in the night, feeling that you can’t breathe.
- Your partner may complain that you are snoring.
- You may feel sleepy by lunchtime, impacting your work.
- Sleepy when driving could be dangerous.
If not treated sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious conditions.
How to Get Sleep Apnea Diagnosed
Download the Epworth Sleepiness Scale on your computer. This is an interesting 8 question diagnostic tool that will indicate your level of daytime sleepiness. Fill it in, score it, and take it to your appointment with the doctor, as it is supporting evidence of your symptoms and how they are affecting you. You will then be examined by the Doctor to determine the reason that your airways are blocking. The Doctor will usually order a sleep study to confirm the severity of the findings. The sleep study is done usually in a hospital while you sleep. You will be attached monitors that show, heart rhythm, oxygen levels, and the number of apnea episodes that occur overnight. If you don’t sleep much during the night it won’t matter, as they will only require about an hour of data to make a diagnosis.
If a Child Snores
If your child snores, get an immediate referral to your ENT Doctor. Children mainly snore from obstruction large tonsils or adenoids could be to blame. If they are causing obstruction usually adenoids, they will have to be removed, and your ENT doctor will make a plan to do the surgery.
How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Once your sleep study is over, you go back to your ENT Specialist to formulate a treatment plan. Any of the following treatments may be recommended:
- C-Pap or sleep machine to give you continuous pressure of oxygen while you sleep. Either with a mask or oxygen prongs.
- Weight loss plan, if you are very overweight losing weight makes a difference.
- Modifying alcohol intake.
- Give up smoking.
- Trying a different sleeping position.
- Using a dental device like a mouth guard helps some people.
These are the more common treatments, but if you have more extreme snoring extreme treatment may be required.
If your snoring is extreme the ENT doctor may recommend an operation called a palatoplasty, this alters the shape and tightness of the palate. This will shorten and stiffen the palate, in severe sleep apnea. To achieve this, traditional surgical techniques may be used or alternatively laser. The operation is done in the hospital under general anesthetic, and because it is the throat area the aftermath can be painful for a few days. So when you go home you will require analgesia and a soft diet for several days. ENT doctors are very skilled, and the surgery for snoring is very successful if your doctor makes the recommendation, you can feel confident that the operation will stop the snoring. Having excess tissue removed from the back of your palate means that it won’t flop up and down when you are asleep ( causing snoring), so you will be cured.
Whatever your age, snoring can be cured, and if you are noticing changes in your sleep pattern or your partner reports snoring, you will need to go along for an assessment. Don’t leave these symptoms unchecked, as snoring could threaten your health and ultimately your life.