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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a condition characterised by cessation of breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnoea refers to episodes of upper airway blockage during sleep. During these episodes, breathing stops but the effort to breathe continues until the blockage is overcome and breathing resumes with a snort, gasp or jerk. Sleep apnoea can make you wake up feeling unrefreshed.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common in the obese and in individuals with thick necks and small, reduced or obstructed airway passages due to excessive weight, swollen tonsils, a large tongue, a deviated nasal septum or craniofacial morphology.

To diagnose obstructive sleep apnoea a sleep study such as a polysomnogram is conducted which measures breathing patterns, air flow, blood oxygen levels, electrical activity of the brain, heart rate, muscle activity and eye movements. A Polysomnogram can be performed either at a sleep laboratory or at home.

Treatment depends on the cause of airway obstruction. The aim of treatment is to restore normal breathing during sleep and prevent excessive daytime sleepiness.