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Sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep.

Frustrated woman struggles with her partner who has sleep apnoea induced snoring
Sleep apnoea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder where your breathing stops and starts while you are asleep. The most common type of sleep apnoea is obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Because your breathing is interrupted during the night, you don't sleep as well. This means you're not well rested and can lead to a feeling of exhaustion during the day.

The cause of sleep apnoea is a relaxing of the muscles and soft tissues in your throat, which restricts your oxygen supply. This causes you to come out of deep sleep and either enter light sleep or wake up. You won't have any memory of this, but you will likely feel the effects during the day.

Treatment for sleep apnoea

Often, sleep apnoea can be managed with lifestyle changes or with non-invasive treatments such as CPAP machines, which help you to breathe better while you sleep (see below for more). If these methods don't work, you might need surgery.

This page will tell you everything you need to know about finding out whether you have obstructive sleep apnoea and how it can be treated. If you think you need a test for OSA, call us today to book an appointment with one of our specialists.

Sleep apnoea is when your throat muscles relax while you sleep, restricting your oxygen supply. It can make your breathing stop and start and can cause you to gasp and snort, or even choke in your sleep. You might snore badly, and whether you remember or not you will probably wake up a lot during the night.

Because most of the signs of sleep apnoea are only apparent while you're asleep, many people do not realise something is wrong. You will normally find that it's the secondary symptoms which are also apparent during the day that lead to a diagnosis of OSA.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea

Symptoms of sleep apnoea that you might notice include:

  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Problems concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches in the morning

These symptoms happen because your sleep has been interrupted and disrupted.

Screening for sleep apnoea

If you think you might have sleep apnoea, you should speak to a specialist about getting tested. Tests for sleep apnoea generally involve monitoring your breathing and your heartbeat while you sleep.

You might be able to go home and sleep as normal while we monitor you, or sometimes we'll ask you to stay overnight in our sleep clinic.

The cost of sleep apnoea screening and treatment will vary from person to person, depending on various factors. These include the number and types of tests you have, which hospital you choose to visit, and the treatment course you decide on.

We will confirm the exact cost with you ahead of time. Diagnostic tests are usually paid for separately, while any course of treatment you are recommended after diagnosis will usually be part of a fixed-price package.

These fixed-price packages include the cost of any procedures you need and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, pacemaker implantation will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

It's very important to get treatment for sleep apnoea as soon as possible. Sleep apnoea can lead to further problems including high blood pressure and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. It increases the risk of abnormal heartbeats and can even lead to heart failure.

Treatment for OSA will usually begin with lifestyle changes, which can help to manage risk factors. There are also certain non-surgical treatments that can help you to breathe better while you sleep.

If these don't work, you might be recommended surgery.

Lifestyle changes

One of the first things your consultant will recommend is that you try to make lifestyle changes to manage your OSA. Excess weight is one of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnoea, so weight loss if often recommended.

Other risk factors that might be within your control include:

  • Smoking
  • Use of alcohol
  • Use of sedatives or tranquilisers

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines

A CPAP machine is a device that pumps air into a mask that you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep. This is one of the most common treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). It can stop your airways getting to narrow while you sleep, which can reduce the symptoms of tiredness during the day as well as lowering your risk of high blood pressure and other problems that can happen as a result of OSA.

Surgery for sleep apnoea

Most people do not need to have surgery to treat their sleep apnoea, however some people do not respond to the other treatments.

If this is the case for you, there are a number of surgical treatments available for sleep apnoea, which differ depending on what's causing your breathing problems.

For example, if your tonsils are blocking your airway, a tonsillectomy to remove them could allow you to breathe more clearly. If soft tissues in your throat are preventing normal breathing, an operation called an Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) can remove it to widen the airway.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose your hospital and your consultant
  • Bespoke, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Private en-suite rooms as standard
  • Tasty and nutritious meals cooked onsite to your dietary requirements
  • Support from the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help spread the cost of your care

If you think you have obstructive sleep apnoea and want to speak to a cardiologist or one of our sleep specialists, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in July 2022. Next review due July 2025.

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