Snoring is a big problem! Especially when a person also suffers from apnoea: a cessation of breathing that lasts more than 10 seconds. Some people who snore have a pharynx which is so narrow that the tongue and/or the soft palate with the uvula and/or the throat wall are occasionally sucked against each other, causing a complete closure of the airway: this will result in a cessation of breathing that can last for 30 seconds or more. This is called OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA, which is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder.
All these apnoeas and the consequential alarm signals from the brain greatly affect the quality of the sleep; it becomes more or less impossible to get a deep enough sleep. The sleep apnoea patient is fully rested when he or she wakes up and will feel sleepy during the day. This means more than just feeling tired as it can result in falling asleep involuntarily, for example during a conversation, while reading a newspaper, or even during activities such as driving. Naturally, this can lead to dangerous situations, not just for yourself but also to others!
The alarm signals from the brain also cause fluctuations in the blood pressure; this has a negative effect on the cardiovascular system and can lead to high blood pressure. Snoring is, therefore, not just annoying for your partner, it also damages your own health. Your body and mind are not getting sufficient rest and you will not recover properly during the night. This also means that people suffering from sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS) have a shorter life expectancy.
OSAS patients have an increased risk on:
- Traffic or industrial accidents
- Cardiovascular disease
- Mild cognitive impairment or dementia
What are the typical OSAS complaints?
- Cessation of breathing during sleep (ask your partner)
- Waking up suddenly with feelings of asphyxiation or gasping for air
- Regularly waking up to urinate
- Night sweats
- Interrupted or restless sleep
- Sleepiness during the day (falling asleep spontaneously, for example when watching TV or when driving)
- Lack of energy
- Not feeling rested in the morning
- Dry mouth on waking up
- Morning headache
- Memory loss, forgetfulness
- Concentration problems
- Feelings of depression, irritable
- Impotence or sexual problems
- High blood pressure that is difficult to control, heart palpitations, arrhythmias
During your first consultation, and after discussing your complaints, the ENT specialist will first check your nose and throat. In order to establish that you actually suffer from an obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, a nightly screening of your sleep must take place (polysomnography).
Before your appointment with the ENT specialist, we will advise you to fill in this form, when possible together with your partner.
Snoring and apnoea are caused by a vibration and/or blockage of the upper airway, so ways must be found to keep the airways open. The treatment of OSAS is entirely aimed at removing or significantly reducing the complaints of sleepiness or fatigue during the day and the cessation of breathing during sleep. There are various treatment options for both problems. Which treatment will be most suitable for you depends on different factors such as the severity of the OSAS in your situation and your own preferences.