& OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNOEA
Snoring is an extremely common problem affecting up to 40% of the population. It can disrupt the quality of sleep of both the patient and the partner. About 10% of these patients can have a condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea whereby they have breath holding episodes in their sleep which can cause oxygen deprivation. This can result in poor sleep, morning headaches and daytime sleepiness. If sleep apnoea is left untreated then the chances of developing other disorders such as ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, memory problems and stroke can increase.
Snoring occurs as a result of a turbulent airflow and can affect both children and adults. The commonest cause in children is due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids and there is plethora of evidence in the medical literature to demonstrate that removal of tonsils and adenoids in these children dramatically improves their quality of sleep as well as their cognitive function. In adults the problem could be due to an obstruction in the nose as a result of a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps but more commonly it is the redundant, floppy soft palate in the throat that may be the culprit. Certain life style factors such as increased alcohol intake or obesity could aggravate the symptoms.
Evaluation of these patients would include:
- A full upper airway examination using fibre-optic flexible endoscopy to try and identify the obstructive segment.
- In addition some patients may require a sleep study to ascertain whether they are “simple snorers” or have obstructive sleep apnoea.
- Some patients require drug induced sedation endoscopy to examine the dynamics of the upper airway obstruction