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Dr Paul Dawkins - Respiratory Physician

Private Service, Respiratory

Sleep Disordered Breathing

These are conditions where the breathing is affected during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnoea is a common condition causing snoring, blockage of the airway at night and daytime sleepiness for which an effective treatment is available.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

When snoring is interrupted by episodes of totally obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnoea. The obstruction is caused by the relaxation of muscles that support the soft tissues at the back of the throat such as the uvula, soft palate, tongue and tonsils. These tissues then collapse and momentarily block the airway.

Episodes may last 20 seconds or more and may occur hundreds of times per night. While you are not breathing, the levels of oxygen in your blood drop which causes your blood pressure to go up and adds strain to your cardiovascular system. In addition, you are likely to feel overly tired during the day and your work, driving and overall performance may be affected.

The usual treatment for OSA is to wear a nasal mask that delivers pressurised air to keep the airways open while you sleep. This treatment is known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

This page was last updated at 5:37PM on September 6, 2021.