Sleep apnoea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious condition. People with obstructive sleep apnoea have disrupted sleep. They also have low blood oxygen levels.

Your tongue is sucked against the back of your throat. This blocks your upper airway and stops the flow of air. The lack of air causes your brain’s oxygen level to drop. When your oxygen levels drop, you almost wake up (usually with a loud gasp). This gasp clears the obstruction in your throat and allows the flow of air to start again.

Health risks

Repeated cycles of decreased oxygen levels can lead to:

  • serious cardiovascular (i.e. heart or blood vessel) problems
  • excessive sleepiness during the day
  • loss of concentration
  • depression
  • accidents while driving or while operating machinery.

Diagnosis

The first step in treating sleep apnoea is to recognise the symptoms. You will need advice from our specialist Dr Miller.

Dr Miller will consider your detailed medical history. Diagnosis may also involve:

  • an assessment of your jaws and face.
  • X-ray analysis of your skull to see obstructions.
  • using a flexible fibre-optic camera to examine the area above and behind your nose.
  • a sleep study to monitor you overnight. This will help Dr Miller observe your oxygen levels. He can also check on problems with your heart or blood vessels.

Treatment

Obstructive sleep apnoea needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical insurance plans cover OSA diagnosis and treatment.

There are several treatment options available:

  • In some cases, Dr Miller can use a radio frequency probe to tighten your soft palate. This procedure is often performed in-office under light IV sedation.
  • A common treatment is to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

Surgery

Surgical options include:

  • A uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (LAUPP). This is to remove tissue from the back your throat and soft palate.
  • Orthognathic surgery. This is for more complex cases. Dr Miller can reposition your upper and lower jaw bones to increase the size of your airway. This procedure is done in hospital under general anaesthesia. It requires a one- or two-day overnight hospital stay.

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