Snoring and sleep apnoea can cause more harm than just keeping your partner up at night – from health issues such as obesity, weight gain, heart disease and stroke to the risks associated with driving or operating heavy machinery when tired, these conditions can have deadly side-effects.
Snoring is more than just an annoyance or a reason to be embarrassed. Disorders like sleep apnoea can greatly impact the severity of snoring and increase the chances of an early death. If you or someone you know is struggling with snoring, there are a number of associated conditions that can impede on your quality of life.
When you snore, the arteries in the neck begin to narrow and can be further narrowed by fatty deposits. The more intense the snoring becomes, the greater the chances are of having a stroke. There are also a range of cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, which can eventually lead to heart attacks.
Dr Cussell is a leading Australian medical practitioner in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnoea and Clinical Director at Specialist Clinics of Australia. He points out how people with long-term snoring conditions are more prone to accidents due to sleep deprivation: “Not getting enough rest can put people at serious risk as they are exhausted and more prone to losing concentration or even falling asleep at a dangerous time such as when driving or performing a critical task at work.”
Lack of sleep can also be associated with depression because we are less likely to be rational when we are exhausted. This is not uncommon, a recent study identified that snoring can dramatically impact romantic relationships leading to sexual dissatisfaction and separation.
Other side effects
An obstructive condition, sleep apnoea can also be related to obesity and weight gain as fat is collected around the neck which makes it more difficult to breathe. For this reason, losing weight can help reduce snoring in addition to improving your overall health. Specialist Clinics of Australia offer Liposculpture as an option to reduce fat around the neck and depending on your particular issues and physiology a combination of treatments may be recommended to reduce your condition.
Other factors that put you at a higher risk of developing this disorder are gender (being male), smoking and having a pre-existing family history of sleep apnoea or nasal problems.
The different types of sleep apnoea
Snoring isn’t necessarily related to sleep apnoea. But loud snoring, especially when accompanied by daytime sleepiness could indicate sleep apnoea – a serious condition in which breathing stops and starts while you are asleep. There are several types of sleep apnoea which if left untreated, can severely impact your health:
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is described as partial or complete obstruction of air to the throat during sleep. This is the most common type of sleep apnoea encountered in recent studies, affecting both men and women. It manifests as loud disruptive snoring and frequent episodes of shallow or intermittent breathing.
Central sleep apnoea occurs when there is an interruption between the signal emitted by the brain to the muscles that control breathing. While obstructive sleep apnoea is described as a functional issue, central sleep apnoea is more of a communication problem. Predominantly caused by medical problems that affect the brainstem, the condition acts as irregular breathing during sleep and shortness of breath that lead to waking up.
Mixed sleep apnoea (also known as complex sleep apnoea) is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnoea and is considered to be a prevalent sleep disorder. Associated with potentially serious conditions, this type of sleep apnoea combines both symptoms from the previous two types and results in difficulty breathing while asleep.
At Specialist Clinics of Australia we offer consultations to examine your sleep issues and determine your suitability for treatment. During the initial consultation we investigate your medical history as well as your family history, sleeping habits and conduct a brief physical examination in order to determine the best course of action.
The medical and family history information is used to understand if you or other members of your family have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea or snoring. “For an accurate medical history, patients are advised to keep a journal of their sleeping patterns”, Dr Cussell advises. “Where possible we also strongly advise that you bring your partner to the consultation. A snorer is rarely the best person to diagnose themselves, we get a much clearer picture of the situation from a partner or somebody who is there to observe the behaviour”.
During the physical exam, a specialist will examine your mouth, nose and throat for enlarged tissue. This is because people who suffer from sleep apnoea could have a large soft palate. After the consultation a fully personalised treatment plan can be created.
SleepTight, a laser treatment that can reduce snoring and treat sleep apnoea
Snoring occurs when the soft palate in the back of the throat relaxes and blocks airflow from the nose to the throat during sleep. SleepTight uses a focused laser that reaches deeper layers of the throat tissue, heating and tightening lax tissue to clear the airway. By unblocking the airway, patients can enjoy reduced snoring and easier breathing.
The treatment does not always eliminate snoring altogether, nor do the effects of the treatment last forever. Dr Cussell explains: “At Specialist Clinics of Australia, we introduced SleepTight as a means to help reduce the frequency of snoring, as well as the severity of the risks associated with sleep apnoea; but this is not a one size-fits all solution.”
In fact, for the treatment to be successful, several sessions are required. “The length of the treatment is reliant on patient condition and how quickly they acted in terms of finding treatment, we also place a high value on patient compliance. SleepTight can be a life changing treatment, however we can’t compensate for poor lifestyle choices and bad habits. Our experts are here to guide you and those who embrace their advice invariably achieve the best results”.
With each treatment, the SleepTight laser causes the skin tissue to contract and tighten, while stimulating the production of new collagen and allowing free air passage. The treatment is also repeatable; in order for the effects to be prolonged, there could be a need for maintenance treatments over the years.
Suffering from severe snoring and sleep apnoea can have a negative impact on your overall health. Although some conditions might be too severe to treat completely, the experts at Specialist Clinics of Australia are here to ensure each person is assessed and recommended treatment on an individual basis.