Simply put, sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder where breathing starts and stops repeatedly. Do you snore loudly? And do you feel fatigued even after you have slept the whole night? If yes, chances are you suffer from sleep apnoea.
There are three types of sleep apnoea:
- Obstructive sleep apnoea. It is a common type and takes place as the throat muscles relax.
- Complex sleep apnoea syndrome. It takes place when a person has central and obstructive sleep apnoea. It is also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnoea.
- Central sleep apnoea. It takes place when the brain fails to relay correct signals to muscles that monitor breathing.
The relevant symptoms of sleep apnoea
At times the symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnoea can overlap. It might be confusing to detect which one a patient is suffering from. Usually, the common signs of sleep apnoea include:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for breath while sleeping
- Instances where you stop breathing while you are asleep
- A dry mouth upon waking up
- Trouble focusing when you are awake
- Morning headache
- Trouble falling asleep
- Excessive sleeping during the daytime
When should you consult a doctor?
Loud snoring can denote a severe issue. However, not every person with sleep apnoea snores loudly. You need to consult a doctor if you think you have a few symptoms of this ailment. You can talk to your doctor if you have a sleep issue that makes you feel irritable, tired, and sleepy. To know more about it, you can check out an ENT clinic.
What can you expect at a clinic?
When you visit a doctor, they will examine you thoroughly and take a detailed medical case history. They will opt for a physical exam known as nasendoscopy to assess the upper airway anatomy.
The diagnosis processes
Usually, the doctor will make an assessment depending on the symptoms of your sleep history. The chances are that you will get referred to a sleep disorder centre, where a sleep specialist can determine if you require any other evaluation. It typically comprises overnight monitoring of your sleep at the centre. They also assess the breathing pattern during your sleep. You can also opt-in for home sleep testing. Some of the tests that help to detect sleep apnoea are:
- Home sleep tests. Here, your doctor can ask you to opt-in for easy tests for diagnosing sleep apnoea. Such tests generally assess your blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing patterns, and airflow.
- Nocturnal polysomnography. When this test takes place, the patient gets connected to a device that monitors the brain, lung, and heart activity, leg and arm movements, breathing patterns, and the oxygen levels in the blood during sleep.
The treatment plan for sleep apnoea
If a patient has a mild case of sleep apnoea, then a doctor will usually suggest lifestyle changes. For instance, they might ask you to quit smoking and lose weight. If the patient is prone to allergies, the doctor will recommend a treatment for it. Just in case these suggestions don’t work to ease sleep apnoea symptoms, then it is essential to choose other treatment modalities. There are few medical devices available that can open a blocked airway. And in other severe cases, the doctors usually recommend surgery.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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