Witnessed Apnoea

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Witnessed Apnoea Treatment: Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Do you require treatment for witnessed apnoea in sleep? What is witnessed apnoea, and why isn’t it a term that is used as commonly as obstructive or central sleep apnoea? We are going to cover what witnessed apnoea is, as well as how you can find treatment for it.

What is Witnessed Apnoea?

Witnessed apnoea is a symptom of sleep apnoea, in which the intrusive qualities of sleep apnoea are witnessed by a person’s bed partner as they sleep.

Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder in which breathing during sleep is irregular, characterised by frequently stopping and starting. For people sharing a bed, sleep apnoea can lead to frequent interruption that causes both parties to lose sleep.

Common symptoms of sleep apnoea include:

  • Loud snoring when trying to sleep
  • Waking oneself with a gasping or choking sensation
  • Episodes in which a patient appears to stop breathing during their sleep
  • Fragmented sleep or waking unrefreshed.

If left untreated, significant sleep apnoea can be potentially life threatening, affecting more than just one’s capacity to sleep or whether or not they are snoring.

Sleep apnoea causes very broken and fragmented sleep and not getting enough sleep can lead to a higher risk of severe health conditions such as;

  • High blood pressure/hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Poor memory and lack of concentration or focus
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness, depression and personality change
  • Lack of interest in sex, and impotence in men
  • Nocturia

Additionally, a lack of sleep (whether due to apnoea or other causes) also significantly impairs one’s judgement and motor skills. Many workplace and motor vehicle accidents occur simply because those responsible are not getting enough sleep.

How do you treat obstructive sleep apnoea?

Because witnessed apnoea is a symptom of sleep apnoea, diagnosing and treating the sleep apnoea is the way to treat witnessed apnoea. Sleep apnoea is treated in different ways, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Mild sleep apnoea

Treating mild sleep apnoea usually involves a combination of methods, including:

  • Positional therapy involves retraining yourself to only sleep on your side. This can be done with the aid of special pillow or rubber wedges to help you with apnoea symptoms such as snoring when laying on your back.
  • Losing weight, as being overweight can affect sleep and exacerbate apnoea symptoms
  • Decreasing alcohol consumption, particularly at night before you sleep, as alcohol can also result in apnoea symptoms due to the increase in muscle relaxation.
  • Avoiding sleeping tablets (which can exacerbate sleep apnoea)
  • Quitting smoking, as smoking plays a large part in exacerbating apnoea symptoms such as snoring
  • Using a nasal decongestant spray in the event that nasal congestion due to apnoea is affecting your sleep

These methods do not require intervention on behalf of sleep doctors, and can be carried out by the patient in their home at their own discretion, however a sleep doctor does need to first diagnose the severity of sleep apnoea.

Moderate to severe sleep apnoea

If your sleep apnoea is moderate-to-severe, your sleep doctor will employ more advanced methods of treatment, such as;

  • an oral appliance fitted by your dentist, such as special mouthguards or splints to wear while you sleep, treating your apnoea
  • a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) pump, which feeds pressurised air into a face mask to keep your throat open while you sleep, preventing apnoea
  • another option for sleep apnoea treatment for some is surgery, however this depends entirely on the age of a patient as well as their physical anatomy (such as jaw structure, tongue size, tonsils and nasal obstruction).

What is CPAP treatment?

CPAP therapy is a common treatment for sleep apnoea (as well as witnessed apnoea) and snoring. A CPAP machine delivers constant and steady air pressure via a mask connected to a hose to a sleeping patient. This is to help the patient breath consistently as they sleep.

How does a CPAP machine work?

The continuous stream of pressurised air that a CPAP machine delivers to the patient pushes against any blockages in their airways, ensuring that the lungs have a consistent flow of oxygen. Because the patient’s breathing is no longer interrupted, they can sleep soundly. 

Does Manse Medical provide treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea?

Manse Medical provides the following treatments for sleep apnoea (and witnessed apnoea):

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP therapy is a common treatment for sleep apnoea. A CPAP machine delivers constant and steady air pressure via a mask connected to a hose to a sleeping patient. This is to help you breathe consistently as you sleep.

The continuous stream of pressurised air that a CPAP machine delivers to you pushes against any blockages in your airways, ensuring that the lungs have a consistent flow of oxygen. Because your breathing is no longer interrupted, you can sleep soundly.

Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS)

A mandibular advancement splint (or sometimes referred to as an oral or dental device) is used to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

A MAS is essentially a “mouthguard” which is worn while asleep that is specifically made by a dentist. The fitting on the top teeth is connected to the fitting on the bottom teeth. The bottom fitting of the device is aligned slightly forward, resulting in the airway opening more than at the resting point. This can help avoid airway collapse during sleep and dampen OSA and snoring.​

MAS is usually considered for patients who have a lesser severity of OSA or simply want to stop snoring, however, some studies have shown a MAS can be effective for treating a range of severities of OSA. Some considerations need to be made before choosing to treat OSA with a MAS and these should be discussed with your Sleep Physician.

How can I get in contact with Manse Medical’s Sleep and Respiratory Centre?

If you are looking for effective treatment for witnessed apnoea, book your appointment online by selecting your preferred sleep clinic and choose from the list of our available sleep specialists.

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