Sleep apnoea happens if your airways become too narrow while you sleep. This stops you breathing properly. Sleep apnoea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Sleep apnoea has been linked to:
Symptoms of sleep apnoea mainly happen while you sleep.
During the day, you may also:
It can be hard to tell if you have sleep apnoea. It may help to ask someone to stay with you while you sleep so they can check for the symptoms.
If you have any of the main symptoms of sleep apnoea:
If someone else has seen you have the symptoms, it can help to bring them with you.
Sleep apnoea can be serious if it's not diagnosed and treated.
If you doctor thinks you might have sleep apnoea, they may refer you to a specialist sleep clinic for tests.
At the clinic, you may be given monitors to measure you breathing by measuring the breathing and heartbeat while you sleep.
Overnight pulse oximetry monitoring is essential in pre-confirming the effectiveness of oral appliance therapy (OAT) for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) treatment. A pulse oximeter monitors a patient’s heart rate and blood oxygen saturation in arterial blood.
You'll be asked to wear these overnight over a period of 2-3 days so doctors can check for signs of sleep apnoea.
You can usually do this at home, but sometimes you may need to stay in the clinic overnight.
The test can show if you have sleep apnoea and how severe it is.
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Sleep apnoea does not always need to be treated if it's mild.
But many people need to use a device called a CPAP machine. You'll be given this for free on the NHS if you need it.
A CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.
It can help:
Using a CPAP machine may feel strange or awkward at first, but try to keep using it. It works best if you use it every night.
Tell your doctor if you find it uncomfortable or hard to use.
Less common treatments for sleep apnoea include:
These treatments may not work as well as a CPAP machine.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, there are some things you can do to help.
These may be all you need to do if your sleep apnoea is mild.
Without treatment, sleep apnoea can lead to:
Sleep apnoea can also be difficult for your partner and put a strain on your relationship with them.