There are a wide variety of options available to treat the symptoms of sleep apnoea and other sleep disorders. If your symptoms are not severe, then some simple lifestyle changes may be recommended such as stopping smoking, losing weight, reducing alcohol intake or changing your sleep routines and sleeping position.
Sometimes, oral devices (such as a mandibular advancement device) may be recommended to keep your airways open during the night, help improve your breathing and give you a better night’s sleep.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
With moderate or severe sleep apnoea, an effective treatment could be continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This long-term treatment involves wearing a mask every night; a machine blows pressurised air through the mask, keeping your airways open, allowing you to sleep better. This is usually a very effective treatment.
If none of these less-invasive treatments helps treat your sleep apnoea, and if it is affecting the quality of your life, surgery might be recommended. It may also be required if you have a condition that makes the throat or airways abnormally narrow, including enlarged tonsils, a deviated nasal septum or a small lower jaw with an overbite.
Surgery to treat obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is usually only recommended when other treatment options have failed and your quality of life is significantly reduced. The range of surgical treatments includes:
- tonsillectomy – removes the tonsils if they are enlarged or blocking your airways during sleep
- adenoidectomy – removes the adenoids, located close to the tonsils, if they are enlarged or blocking your airways during sleep
- bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) – reduces the size of the stomach if you're severely obese, which can be a factor in worsening your sleep apnoea
- nasal surgery - treats nasal problems such as removing nasal polyps or correcting a deviated septum
These procedures are normally carried out under general anaesthetic so you’ll be asleep during the operation. Some of these treatments can be carried out as day surgery, so you’ll be able to return home on the same day; some may require you to stay in hospital overnight.
You may experience some discomfort after the operation which we’ll help manage with painkillers. We’ll discuss your aftercare and arrange any follow-up appointments with you before you leave hospital. You may need to take some time off work and you’ll need to avoid strenuous exercise as advised by your surgeon.
Sometime after your surgery, depending on the procedure you’ve had, your sleep apnoea should significantly improve.
As with any surgical procedure there is some risk of infection of the wound or bleeding after the operation. Specific risks associated with nasal surgery include:
- reduced sense of smell
- persistent nose-bleeds