Sleep Apnoea

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What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep Apnoea (Sleep Apnea) is a disorder that is characterised by pauses in your breathing during sleep.

Each pause can skip more than one breath until your spasm-reflex causes a jolting gasp. These episodes pf partial awakenings to open ypu airways can repeat for hours without you realising it, resulting in a fitful or restless sleep.

The condition can result is severe sleep deprivation and inadequate oxygenation of your blood. When the condition is untreated it can cause raised blood pressure and increased likelihood of heart disease.

Sleep Apnoea affects people of all ages and impacts approximately 10% of the population.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnoea

It can present as:

  • Frequent breathing silence due to pauses in breathing 
  • Choking or gasping during sleep to get air into the lungs
  • Loud snoring 
  • Sudden awakening to restart breathing or waking up in a sweat 
  • Daytime drowsiness and feeling unrefreshed in the morning
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times   

Causes of Sleep Apnoea

It may develop from the following:

  • Adult and childhood obesity
  • Large tonsils and adenoids
  • Nose and throat abnormalities
  • Structural or mechanical problems in the airway
  • Tongue and soft tissue sagging from medications or alcohol
  • Nasal congestion or blockage from colds, allergies or smoking 

Self Help Relief for Sleep Apnoea

Minor sleep apnoea can be temporarily or permanently resolved by:

  • Losing weight
  • Stop using sedative, alcohol or tobacco 
  • Sleeping on your side (for those who sleep on their back and causes problems)
  • Head elevation with pillows
  • Maintain regular sleep hours 
  • Use a nasal inhaler, spray or nasal dilator

Treatment for Sleep Apnoea

It is important to seek an appropriate diagnosis; this can be conducted through your dentist. There are two types these are:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – treatment discussed further, and 
  • Central Sleep Apnoea – caused by a central nervous system disorder

While people with Central Sleep Apnoea seldom snore they present similarly the treatment is not managed by this dentist. If your symptoms point to a dental problem there is a range of treatments, some are:

  • Use of a continuous positive airway pressure CPAP device which maintains an open airway by blowing air into the throat preventing collapse
  • Use of Oral Appliance Therapyfor milder conditions
  • Use of a BIPAP machine which assists with both inhaling and exhaling, and is used in more severe cases

Ideally with appropriate appliances Sleep Apnoea can be treated quickly with immediate relief. Surgical remedies are rarely considered appropriate.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative therapies may include

  • Didgeridoo playing
  • Breathing exercises to restore sufficient muscle function
  • Yoga

Your Next Step

If you suspect you may suffer from Sleep Apnoea call our practice for an appointment.


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