Sleep Study Sleep Apnoea

Polysomnography (Sleep Study)

Sleep apnoea is a common, yet often undiagnosed, potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. There are three types of sleep apnoea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common. Despite the difference in the root cause of each type, in all three, people with untreated sleep apnoea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, because their airways collapses. As a result, air is prevented from getting into lungs. These pauses in breathing can happen 30 times or more per hour. In most cases the person is unaware of these breath stoppages because they dont trigger a full awakening. If left untreated, sleep apnoea can have serious and life-shortening consequences: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel, diabetes, depression, and other ailments.

You are probably suffering from OSA, if you snore regularly and have one or more of the following symptoms

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Attention problems
  • Irritability

Sleep apnoea can affect anyone, even children. But certain factors increase your risk of sleep apnoea:

  • Excess weight: People who are obese have four times the risk of OSA because increased amount of tissue in the throat makes airway obstruction more likely.
  • Neck circumference: More than 17 inches in men and 15 inches in women.
  • A narrowed airway: Inherited or due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, nasal congestion.
  • Male, older people and people with family history of sleep apnoea are at increased risk.
  • Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers: These substances relax the muscles in your throat.
  • Smoking: Smokers are three times more likely to have OSA.

Untreated sleep apnoea can have dangerous health consequences. There is increased risk of

  • Excessive day-time sleepiness, fatigue and irritability
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents due to sleepiness
  • High blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms or heart attack
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Sleep-deprived partners due to loud snoring

How is sleep apnoea diagnosed?

If you snore and recognise any of the symptoms described above, evaluation by a specialist in Sleep Medicine is recommended.

In order to properly diagnose an overnight sleep study (Polysomnography) is undertaken where sleep patterns, breathing and heart activity are monitored and recorded which is analysed to determine type and severity of the sleep disorder, as well as appropriate treatment.

What is the treatment of OSA?

For milder cases of sleep apnoea, you may need lifestyle changes, such as

  • Lose excess weight.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. These relax the muscles in the back of your throat, interfering with breathing.
  • Sleep on your side or abdomen rather than on your back.
  • Keep your nasal passages open at night. You may require saline nasal spray/ decongestants or antihistamines.
  • Stop smoking, if youre a smoker.

If these measures dont improve your signs and symptoms or if your apnoea is moderate to severe, a number of other treatments are available.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

CPAP is a gold standard treatment for sleep apnoea. CPAP machine is applied through a nasal mask while sleeping. It delivers air pressure just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnoea and snoring, thereby avoiding all the complications of sleep apnoea.

Oral appliances: Another option is wearing an oral appliance designed to keep your throat open but these appliances are tailor-made and are not readily available in India.

Surgery In a small subset of patients, surgery might be useful in treating OSA. There are various forms of surgeries for sleep apnoea and should be discussed with the ENT surgeon to understand the extent of benefit and implications of surgery. The goal of surgery is to enlarge the airway through your nose or throat that may be vibrating and causing you to snore or that may be blocking your upper air passages and causing sleep apnoea.

At Kokilaben hospital, we offer complete 22-channel sleep study with video recording via the latest ALICE 6 sleep lab and patient is monitored by our trained technician overnight. The sleep study is useful for diagnosing of sleep apnoea and also other various sleep related disorders like sleep talking, sleep walking, insomnia etc.