Patients with OSA experience repetitive episodes of partial or complete occlusion of the upper airway during sleep. This is caused by abnormal relaxation of the throat muscles during sleep. OSA sufferers usually snore, and may wake up gasping or choking. However, many people with OSA are unaware of any disturbance of their sleep. OSA is a common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness, tiredness, fatigue and poor concentration. Memory may also be disturbed.
Obstructive sleep apnoea has detrimental effects on sleep-quality and health, and is associated often with obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, type-2 diabetes, depression, impotence, mood disorders, and motor vehicle and industrial accidents. If you suspect that you have OSA or you have symptoms of OSA, you may need to have a sleep study which we also look for evidence of other sleep disorders. The sleep study helps to decide whether you need treatment and if so, the type of treatment.
OSA may be treated by continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy which involves wearing a small mask across the nose, nose and mouth or via nasal prongs. The mask is attached to a small machine that delivers air presure to the upper airway keeping it open. We have staff that can help patients with this treatment and allow them acclimitise to the therapy gradually. Our approach is to advise patients on the most appropriate masks and machines but we do not sell equipment. Our doctors support professional guidelines that describe substantial ethical issues when doctors directly sell equipment or encourage only one form of treatment only to patients.
Other treatments we may use include mandibular (dental) advancement splints, upper airway surgery (nose and/or throat), body position devices during sleep and weight loss. Our interdisciplinary clinics can provide all these treatments using a range of expert specialists many of who are at the forefront of research in sleep disorders. Our research also is investigating a range of new treatments including low flow oxygen during sleep and medications in carefully selected patients. In 2015, we expect to introduce special new dental devices and even upper airway “pacemakers” as alternative treatments for sleep apnea.