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How can obstructive sleep apnoea be treated?

Q: I am a 56 years old male suffering from allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. I am unable to get good sleep during night due to the sound at the throat caused by sputum. I sleep at 9.30 P.M. but get up at 3.30 A.M due to this sound. This has become a nuisance to me. How can it be treated?

A:Your symptoms suggest you may be having obstructive sleep apnea or snoring as a cause of the problem. Other possibilities are continued nasal blockage as well as asthma in the early morning hours. Potentially you may also have drainage from the postnasal ( back of the nose) area into the throat which triggers irritation in the throat and perhaps triggers wheezing also. Some suggested approaches include sleeping with the head of the bed raised, getting evaluation of sleep apnoea and considering appropriate treatment including use of special mouth appliances. Sleeping on the side rather than the back may also help. Saline (with bicarbonate to prevent stinging) nasal rinse will help clear mucus and debris and the inhaled steroid in the nose may also help.

Please be cautious about using decongestant drops which can raise blood pressure. If sputum is accumulating perhaps you have chronic bronchitis or chronic asthma and the management of this condition requires avoiding triggers like dust and also using inhaled medications that decrease inflammation (inhaled steroids) in the air passages as well as relax the airways (bronchodilators). Please share these suggestions with your healthcare provider.

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