Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep.

This condition is caused by a range of factors such as

  • Obesity
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Age
  • Alcohol consumption
Sleep apnea

Types of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Man snoring because of sleep apnea lying in the bed

According to a study by Jurong Health Services, 1 in 3 Singaporeans is afflicted with mild to severe sleep apnea.

This is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by a partial or complete blockage of a patient’s upper airway.

With OSA, a person’s throat muscles relax and block the airflow, preventing him from breathing normally.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Asian woman snoring because due to tired of work,Female snor while sleeping on bed

This condition occurs when the brain does not send proper signals to the respiratory muscles to get them to breathe.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome

Man in bed suffering with sleep apnea

Patients with this condition suffer from both OSA and CSA.

All About Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Man snoring in the bed because of night apnoea sleep disorder
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or throat
  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness or fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Insomnia

Factors that Increase the Risk

Woman smoking a cigarette

Common factors that increase the risk of this condition include

  • Obesity
  • Family history

Patients will have a higher chance of having sleep apnea if this condition runs in their families.

  • Large tonsils
  • Large neck circumference
  • Smoking
  • Gender and age

Middle age males are more susceptible to this condition than females.

Complications of Sleep Apnea

Business woman heart disease she is working in an office.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to an increased risk of health issues like

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart problems such as heart failure and irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Memory loss
  • Liver problems

The condition can also result in low sleep quality and a lack of sleep. These problems are responsible for poor performance in everyday activities and can even put patients at risk of becoming a road hazard.

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(+65) 6887 4385

(+65) 6887 4385

Want to make an appointment? Call us now!

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Keeping a Sleep Diary

Person writing in a diary

Your doctor might ask you to keep a sleep diary for 1 – 2 weeks. It can be used to note down information like how much you sleep each night or whether you wake up in the night.

The data gathered provides insight into your issues, helping the doctor to diagnose your condition.

Pros✓ Easy to use
ConsX Information might not be accurate as it depends on the patient’s memory
X Tedious; dependent on patient’s diligence

Polysomnogram Sleep Study

Person undergoing a sleep test at the hospital

A polysomnogram (PSG) is a multiple-component sleep study that is conducted at the hospital. It electronically transmits and records data of your physical activity while you sleep. This information will then be analysed by the doctor to determine if you have a sleep disorder.

Pros✓ Suitable for patients with other health conditions like heart disease
✓ Most reliable way to diagnose sleep apnea
ConsX Some people might find it difficult to sleep naturally in a new environment, impacting the data collected from the study
X Patients have to incur additional medical costs from staying overnight at the hospital

Watch-PAT 200 Sleep Study

Man undergoing the WatchPat 200 sleep test
Image source: Palencia Dental

The Watch-PAT is a wrist-worn diagnostic device that detects sleep-related breathing disorders in the comfort of the patient’s home.

Pros✓ More comfortable – patients can carry out the study at home
✓ More convenient – does not require patients to stay at the hospital
ConsX Less accurate compared to PSG
X Not suitable for people with pre-existing conditions

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

Lifestyle Changes

Woman standing on a weighing scale

Weight management

Obesity and weight gain are major contributors in many cases of obstructive sleep apnea. As such, an important part of treating the condition is a dietary programme designed to help the patient lose weight.


Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol

Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat that controls your breathing. This increases the likelihood of your airways collapsing, leading to snoring and sleep apnea.

On the other hand, tobacco use causes your airways to swell and become inflamed, aggravating the disorder.

Oral Appliances

Sleep apnea therapy, Man sleeping in bed wearing CPAP mask. Healthy senior man sleeping deeply, happy on his back without snoring

A choice of treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.

During treatment, a patient is required to wear a mask that fits over his nose. Once worn, the device will administer compressed air into the patient’s collapsible airways to allow air to flow, curing him of the condition.

Medical Treatment

Woman using nasal spray

Nasal treatment

Patients suffering from a blocked nose should have the problem treated as nasal obstruction worsens snoring and apnea. A simple course of nasal sprays may be all that is required to alleviate the blocked nose.



Some examples of surgical treatment options available include

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

This surgery is used to clear the obstruction in the upper respiratory tract. It may involve the removal of the tonsils, trimming of excessive tissue at the back of the throat and refashioning of the soft palate.

  • Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)

This surgery can help to treat mild sleep apnea and eliminate snoring. The partial resection of the soft palate using a laser may be required for this procedure.


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Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to see an ENT specialist for my sleep apnea?

You should get your condition checked by a specialist when

  • Your snoring is the cause of your embarrassment, social problems, or marital discord.
  • It causes you to develop daytime drowsiness.
  • You wake up gasping and choking.
  • You are at high risk of developing hypertension, heart problems, or stroke later in your life.

How should I prepare for my sleep apnea appointment?

Some information you can prepare before your consultation include

  • your symptoms and how long you have been suffering from them and
  • the types of medication that you are currently on.

What can I expect at the appointment?

Your doctor will enquire about your sleeping patterns and how you function during the day.

If you are suspected to have sleep apnea, you may then be advised to undergo PSG or a nasolaryngoscopy – a procedure carried out to view the back of your nose and down your throat. It is used to identify underlying issues that may be causing your sleep apnea.