Sleep apnoea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night's sleep.

If you think you might have sleep apnoea, see your doctor. Treatment is necessary to avoid heart problems and other complications.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a relatively common condition which is thought to affect 2-4 % of middle aged men and 1-2% of middle aged women.

In people who have the condition there is repetitive collapse of the airway throughout the night at the level of the throat. Airway closure in turn leads to a brief awakening (termed an arousal) and the brain then activates the muscles necessary to hold the airway open while the lungs take two or three large breaths before the airway collapses again. Episodes of airway closure may occur frequently: in the most severe patients this may be more often than once every minute. Frequent awakening through the night causes daytime tiredness in some but not all patients.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is associated with a number of medical conditions including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, stroke, erectile dysfunction and insulin resistance. Because these conditions are common in the overweight and because weight is a strong predictor of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea it is not yet known whether OSA contributes to them or if they are all consequences of being overweight. For this reason it is unclear whether Obstructive Sleep Apnoea patients who are not sleepy need to be treated.

The most information is available for high blood pressure: we know that patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea left untreated have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and we know that treatment of sleepy, but not non-sleepy, patients reduces high blood pressure. Deciding whether to have treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea will require discussion with a sleep specialist and will depend in part on how severe the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is.


The North Hampshire ENT Partnership is a team of consultants specialising in a wide spectrum of diseases and disorders that affect the Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) including snoring and sleep disorders, cosmetic and skin surgery.


Our surgeons provide specialist care by drawing from the 50 plus years of combined NHS experience and the many areas of individual specialist expertise available within the partnership.


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