Depending on what type of sleep order is identified, the doctor may consider prescribing what is referred to as a snoring splint, which reduces the tendency to snore. If you have been diagnosed with apnoea, the doctor may consider initiating a treatment called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
Using a CPAP pump (see picture) and a nasal mask or full face mask, it is possible to maintain constant airway pressure while the patient sleeps to prevent the throat from becoming constricted and causing sleep apnoea. Partial obstruction of the throat during sleep causes snoring, for which CPAP can also provide relief. For more severe cases of apnoea, it may be necessary to spend another night at the laboratory, where you will be asked to sleep with the mask on and the pump operating in order to determine the correct airway pressure for you. Using the overnight measurements at the laboratory, leaks in the mask can be identified and optimal pressure calculated.
The pump and a suitable nasal mask or face mask can be purchased in conjunction with your stay. Your pump will be configured and you will be provided with the necessary instructions.
The pump lets you breathe freely while sleeping, giving you a normal sleep pattern and a restful night’s sleep. Regular use yields other long-term benefits, such as improved mood and memory, better ability to concentrate and a higher quality of life. There is mounting evidence that CPAP also improves blood pressure, and that it prevents heart attacks and strokes.
If you are diagnosed with “habitual snoring or mild sleep apnoea”, treatment with a snoring splint is an option. It is similar to a mouth guard, and is placed over your teeth while you sleep. The splint pushes your lower jaw and tongue forward, freeing up more space at the back of the throat to avoid the constriction of the airways that can lead to snoring. A snoring splint that fits your oral anatomy is manufactured with the help of your dental impressions (casts).
If you have very few or no natural teeth, a snoring splint may not be appropriate.
Symptoms of sleep apnoea are generally worse in overweight people, and studies have shown that losing weight reduces the rate of breathing disorders during sleep. This is why it is important to maintain your weight within the normal range. It may be necessary to consult with a dietitian to get help losing weight in a healthy and safe way.
Sleep apnoea can also be treated surgically, and there are a number of different surgical procedures that may be relevant. In children, enlarged tonsils and adenoids are usually the cause of sleep apnoea. In this case you can choose to have these surgically removed..