Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in Children

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is essentially a more severe form of snoring. In OSA there are episodes where breathing is obstructed for several seconds. Generally children with snoring and particularly sleep apnoea will demonstrate restless sleep and daytime tiredness. Even children with snoring without observed OSA can have significant sleep disruption as well.

Many studies have shown that snoring and/or OSA can affect learning and memory development and thus can impact on school performance. These children almost always benefit from Adenotonsillectomy.

Snoring in Adults

Snoring unfortunately becomes more common with age. Whilst simple snoring causes few problems for the sufferer it can have a significant impact on sleeping arrangements, travel and other members of the family.

Unlike in children it is actually quite a complex area. Factors contributing to snoring include;

  • Age, weight and fitness
  • Alcohol and tobacco consumption
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Large tonsils and long soft palates
  • Small jaws and large tongues

Treatment

Given in the range of possible contributing factors treatment needs to be tailored to the individual. It is important to correct factors such as weight and fitness if at all possible.

The nasal airway is usually the first thing to correct if nasal obstruction is present. Inflammation can be treated with nasal sprays. Structural issues may be dealt with via surgery in the form of Septoplasty or turbinate reduction most commonly.

Tonsil and palate issues may require Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. In some cases a mandibular advancement splint, worn at night to hold the jaw and tongue forward may be helpful.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea in Adults

OSA is a more severe form of snoring where the upper airways intermittently obstruct during the night. This results in period of poor oxygen supply and poor quality interrupted sleep.

Symptoms include daytime tiredness and lethargy, headache, poor concentration, mood change and others. Significant sleep apnoea overtime contributes to high blood pressure cardiac disease and poor health.

As such it is a more serious condition snoring and all but mild cases need treatment.

Treatment

Treatment options include lifestyle changes such as weight loss and improved fitness. A CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure) is frequently required and usually this will be an effective method of treating sleep apnoea. Mandibular advancement splints can also be useful.

In certain cases surgery may be beneficial if tailored to the individual. Surgical options include procedures to improve the nasal airway such as Septoplasty and turbinate reduction. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty may also be indicated. Other more major procedures may be required in severe cases.