Obstructive sleep apnoea is caused by the airway at the back of your mouth collapsing (or partially collapsing) while you’re asleep, obstructing your airway and preventing you from breathing properly. Your partner may notice that you’re snoring loudly but there’s actually a lot more going on.
Every time your airway is blocked, your brain becomes starved of oxygen. This forces you to wake up and take a breath, this may be happening several times a night without knowing it. Every time your brain wakes you up, it causes your blood pressure to spike. As well has high blood pressure sleep apnoea can also increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and depression.
Common sleep apnoea symptoms include:
If your GP suspects you have sleep apnoea, they will probably recommend weight loss (if you’re overweight) and a sleep test, to measure how severe the problem is.
You may be prescribed a breathing device to wear while you’re asleep (known as CPAP) or a dental device to move your bottom jaw forward to open up your airway.
If weight loss, CPAP or a dental device don’t work for you, your doctor may refer you for surgery to open up the area at the back of your mouth.
There a number of different surgical procedures for sleep apnoea and Dr van Mourik will need to examine you carefully to assess the best approach for you.
Dr van Mourik is a highly experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He explains things clearly and he’s a good listener, so do ask him questions about your sleep apnoea and tell him about any concerns you have — he’ll take the time to answer and manage your concerns sensitively.