Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
If you have been experiencing excessive daytime tiredness, chronic snoring, and choking or gasping during your sleep, then you might be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea symptoms! Read more about the symptoms of Sleep Apnoea below and whether you should take a sleep study.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a condition that causes your breathing to be frequently interrupted during the night. The airway becomes restricted or completely blocked, causing your brain to partially awaken (called a micro-arousal) in order to resume breathing. These repeated interruptions significantly impact sleep quality and can cause life-affecting symptoms.
The key Obstrucive Sleep Apnoea symptoms:
Choking and gasping during sleep - People who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea often visably choke or gasp loudly during sleep. The choking during your sleep is often caused by a physical blockage of loose tissue around the troat. When air cannot reach the lungs because of a blockage to your airways, it can cause you to wake up suddenly choking and gasping for air. However the majority of these events will not cause you to wake up fully; in fact most with OSA are unaware this is happening - it is their partner that notices this.
Excessive daytime tiredness - Even if you have had a full night's sleep, you may still experience a constant tiredness if you have OSA. This is because Obstructive Sleep Apnoea interrupts your sleep every few minutes throughout the night, preventing you from getting deep, restorative sleep. Because this happens subconsciously, many wake up feeling they slept well, oblivious that this has been happening. However, they are still unrefreshed and tired throughout the day.
Loud chronic snoring - Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is almost always coupled with loud snoring. Snoring in itself is not harmful, but it can be a key indicator of a more significant problems. If your snoring is particularly loud, then it may well be linked to OSA - particularly if coupled with the other main symptoms above.
If you have two or more of the above symptoms, then you have a far higher chance of having Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Additional Obstructive Sleep Apnoea symptoms are also listed further down.
What to do if experience Obstructive Sleep Apnoea symptoms
1) Discuss it with your GP - lower costs, slower speeds
To find out if you are eligible for CPAP through the NHS, you will need a referral to a sleep clinic from your GP. The process from your first visit to receiving treatment will typically take several months, so you should arrange an appointment as soon as possible.
If you do not have the means to finance treatment yourself (typically around £900 for the testing and treatment), or the condition is not significantly affected you, your home life or your job performance and you can therefore afford to wait, then the NHS route would be your best option.
2) Conduct a private in-home sleep study- higher cost, faster service, greater choice and convenience.
If you want to have OSA confirmed promptly, and therefore begin treatment as soon as possible, then we recommend considering an in-home sleep study. There are costs involved; on average the total cost of a test and the subsequent equipment is around £900. However, for many this cost is far lower than the loss of earnings from losing their job due to poor performance or concentration. In addition, OSA can cause significant problems at home due to the irritability and short-temperedness it causes, not to mention the loud snoring. The less than the price of a new bed or television, a private, in-home study, allows patients to potentially begin treatment within two weeks.
Other common Obstructive Sleep Apnoea symptoms include:
- Feeling very sleepy during the day
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
- Poor memory and concentration
- Frequent toilet visits during the night
- Headaches (particularly in the morning)
- Irritability and a short temper
- Lack of interest in sex
- In men, impotence
If you read this thinking "this sounds like me", then please consider ordering an In-Home Sleep Test. This can confirm OSA in as little as two weeks, and allow you to begin treatment.
Key risk factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea:
OSA can affect anyone, but you are more likely to experience or develop Obstructive Sleep Apnoea if you:
- Are overweight. There is a strong correlation between weight and OSA, as fatty tissue around the neck increase the risk of the airway getting blocked by loose tissue. Having a BMI above 25 increases the risk of OSA
- Have a recessed jaw or narrowed airway. You may have a jaw that naturally sits back, or naturally narrow airways. Both restrict the capacity of the airway and make it more susceptible to blockages. Additionally, enlarged tonsils or adenoids can lead to blockages.
- Experience chronic nasal congestion. Consistent nasal congestion, regardless of cause, doubles your risk of OSA. Restricted airflow makes complete blockages more likely.
- Have hypertension (high blood pressure). Studies have shown a correlation between high blood pressure and OSA.
- Smoke. Smoking increases the risk of OSA; it is believe to cause throat tissue to become inflamed and therefore more likely to cause a blockage.
- Have Diabetes. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea has a strong crossover with diabetes.
- Are male. In general, men are twice as likely as women to have obstructive sleep apnoea (13% to 6%)
If you have a number of OSA symptoms and fall into one or more of the risk categories above, then it is recommended to a have a sleep test conducted to determine whether or not OSA is present.
Leaving OSA untreated can cause serious long term health problems, including an increased risk of heart failure and stroke. This is on top of the short-term problems that the excessive tiredness can cause at home and at work.
However, with an in-home sleep test you could begin treatment in as little as two weeks.