Usually, when you breathe, air flows through the nose and mouth, past the soft tissue at the back of the throat and into the lungs. Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) have repeated episodes of complete or partial collapse of these soft tissues leading to obstruction of the airway. A narrow or “floppy” throat is more likely to vibrate during sleep which also causes snoring.
When breathing is reduced or stops for a short time, blood oxygen levels fall. This results in an interruption to sleep (arousal) that allows breathing to start again. This may only last for a few seconds, but your sleep is disrupted as a result. This can occur hundreds of times overnight, but you may be unaware that it is happening.
There is strong evidence showing that people with untreated moderate to severe OSA have other health problems. If you have OSA, you are more likely to have the following health problems:
OSA causes motor vehicle accidents
People with untreated OSA are two and a half times more likely to have a motor vehicle accident than others. Poor quality sleep at night results in poor concentration, slow reaction times, and an increased chance of falling asleep at the wheel. You should be particularly careful if your job involves operating machinery or transportation, as there is an increased risk of work-related incidents.
Signs and symptoms such as snoring, witnessed apnoea episodes, and sleepiness during the day may suggest that you have OSA. The best way to diagnose the presence and severity of OSA is with a sleep study. Traditionally sleep studies were done in the hospital with an overnight stay.
However, the equipment used in hospitals are now compact enough so that they can now be used at home with greater accuracy and comfort. The study will gauge your sleep, breathing, and oxygen levels. If necessary our dentists can organise a sleep study for you to determine your level of sleep apnoea.
There are two types of proven treatment available that can benefit someone with OSA.
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