Do you sleep all night and still wake up tired and lethargic? Have you had choking or suffocation while sleeping? Does your partner always complain of you snoring all night? If yes, you might need to see a sleep apnea specialist in Singapore.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder where your lungs do not get enough oxygen and breathing is interrupted and paused during sleep causing ‘apneic episodes’. After every pause, the person snores loudly as the breathing re-establishes.

Sleep Apnea can be of three types:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  2. Central Sleep Apnea
  3. Complex Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This type of Sleep Apnea is more common of three types. As the name ‘obstructive’ suggests, it is characterized by the pause in the breathing of a person due to obstruction of the air passage. The severity level can range from 5 apneas per hour to more than 30 apneas per hour. Causes of Obstructive sleep apnea can include structural issues, age, genetic factors, health status, frequent consumption of alcohol, smoking, allergies and sinusitis.

Central Sleep Apnea: Central Sleep Apnea is caused due to the interruption in the signalling by ‘Centre’, the brain. Generally, it has nothing to do with the muscles of the respiratory muscles themselves, rather this happens to be fault in the signal transmission from the brain to the respiratory muscles, which leads to the interruption in airflow.

Complex Sleep Apnea: Complex Sleep Apnea occurs as a combination of both the above-mentioned types of Sleep Apnea. Treatment is difficult and symptoms usually recur soon after the treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Though loud snoring and gasping are clear symptoms, there are many other symptoms of Sleep Apnea that you should be worrying about and go see a sleep apnea specialist in Singapore.

A few of these signs and symptoms are given below:

Nighttime Symptoms:

  • Loud Persistent Snoring
  • Choking
  • Gasping for air
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Frequent urge to urinate

Daytime Symptoms:

  • Early Morning Headaches
  • Poor attention
  • Lethargy and laziness
  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness

What are the side effects of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea can lead to certain medical consequences over a period of time if not treated.

Hypertension: Sleep Apnea can lead to hypertension i.e., a rise in blood pressure. In sleep apnea, when you sleep at night, the blood oxygen level decreases due to the interruption of the airflow. That releases stress hormone ‘adrenaline’ that eventually increases the rate of blood flow in the body in order to increase blood supply to the tissues. This increases the blood pressure. If sleep apnea persists, so does hypertension. This can lead to serious cardiovascular disorders putting your health at stake.

Cardiac Disease is more common in Sleep Apneic patients. They are often overweight which also increase the risk of cardiac events.

Diabetes is also increased in these patients.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): GERD, also known as Acid Reflux, is another consequence of sleep apnea because Obstructive Sleep Apnea can alter the pressure of the chest and diaphragm and ultimately makes you prone to GERD. It leads to the entry of gastric acid into the esophagus.

Strokes risk is increase in sleep apnea.

Mental Health Disorders: Given the importance of sleep in one’s physical and mental health, the connection of sleep apnea to the mental health of a person becomes quite clear. As sleep apnea deprives a person of normal peaceful sleep, the person feels tired, irritated, and sleepy all day. This might also lead him to feel stress, anxious, short temperament, and mood swings. This might result in the individual’s inability to do his routine tasks actively, affecting their daily productivity which might lead the individual to despair and overthink.

Testing for Sleep Apnea

In order to get proper treatment, you must be properly tested and diagnosed. Though the above-mentioned signs and symptoms are enough to go and see a doctor, there are a few testing and diagnostic procedures that are performed to confirm Sleep Apnea. Testing requires the examination and observation of various functional factors of a patient while he or she sleeps either at home or in the hospital. The muscle contractions and relaxations, blood oxygen level, heart rate, brain wave, and chest movements are recorded during sleep. The sleep apnea specialist then evaluates the findings to determine if the patient has sleep apnea or not.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea:

After the diagnosis of the disorder, the sleep specialist decides a treatment plan depending upon the severity of the sleep apnea, its type, and the physical condition of the patient. Some of the commonly used treatment options for sleep apnea are discussed here:

CPAP Machine: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is commonly used in patients with moderate to severe apnea as it assists in keeping the air passage open. It comes with a small mask that provides low-pressure airflow, hence reducing the frequency of sleep apnea events.

BiPAP Machine: Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure machine controls the airflow in both phases, inhalation, and exhalation by increasing the pressure during inhalation (Ipap) and by reducing the pressure during exhalation (Epap).

Sleep Apnea Surgery: Surgery is an option in suitable patients to enlarged the nose and throat passages.

Oral Devices: Oral devices like Mandible Advancement Devices and Tongue Retaining Devices cane helpful in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

The treatments are individualised. Not everyone require the same treatment. It may be as simple as managing the allergies or sinusitis. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms, do not ignore it. Instead, go to a sleep specialist to get sleep apnea treatment in Singapore to avoid any complications.