What is it?
Obstructive sleep apnoea is when something partly or completely blocks the throat during sleep. This causes breathing to reduce or stop for a short time. Breathing then starts again, often with a gasp, snort, or body jerk. Snoring, tossing, turning, and night waking are symptoms. This condition is also linked with other health risks such as hypertension and diabetes.
What will my GP do now?
Your GP will help you develop a treatment plan for your condition.
Your GP may also want to talk to your partner about kicking, snoring, and waking during sleep. Knowing more about your sleep habits helps your GP to identify problems and develop a treatment plan.
Treatment will depend on:
- If your condition is severe or mild
- Your symptoms
- Other health issues, such as obesity which is a common cause
- Social factors, such as drinking
Not all patients need treatment. If your condition is not severe, your GP may suggest lifestyle changes instead.
If your GP recommends treatment, there are several options, including:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (known as CPAP) – a safe, common solution
- Oral appliances – must be fitted by a dentist
- Surgery – in certain situations, upper airway surgery can be helpful
What will my GP do in the future?
Your GP will see you regularly to check and monitor your condition and treatment. You may be given a referral for a sleep assessment or a sleep study if your condition needs further testing.
What can I do?
When you have obstructive sleep apnoea, it’s very important to be aware of the driving risks. Remember to:
- Take regular rest breaks when driving
- Share driving
- Pull over if you notice warning signs of sleepiness – nodding head, yawning, feeling warm
- Avoid driving when you would normally be asleep or if feeling tired
- Avoid driving long distances
- Avoid alcohol
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps you feel better in general. The following tips can help:
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a healthy diet. If you are overweight, weight loss can be of great benefit
- Drink less than two standard drinks of alcohol daily
- Stop drinking alcohol four hours before bedtime
- Sleep on your side, not on your back
- Have good sleep hygiene
Talk to your GP about treating any nasal congestion