Sleep Apnea: What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is one of the most common respiratory sleeping disorders, in which you experience one or more breathing pauses while you are asleep. These pauses in breathing, also referred to as apneas, can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, and can occur up to 30 times or more per hour.
In many cases, the person with OSA may not even realise that they are experiencing breathing pauses during the night, as they are in an unconscious state of mind. That is why if you believe you might be at risk, it is best to ask your sleeping partner if they notice any pauses to your breathing, or choking during your sleep during the night.
Other symptoms that you should be wary of are loud chronic snoring, morning headaches and excessive daytime tiredness, as these are some of the most common symptoms of OSA that can be recognisable by the sufferer.
OSA left untreated can cause many severe health problems in the future so it is important to recognise the symptoms as soon as possible and diagnose and treat your sleeping disorder promptly by taking a sleep study.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea symptoms to look out for that might suggest you are at risk:
- Excessive daytime tiredness
- Loud, chronic snoring
- Choking or gasping during your sleep
- Headaches in the morning
- Depression and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Sweating during the night
- Observed apnea episodes, breathing pauses during your sleep
- Decreased sex drive
- High blood pressure
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
The main types of Sleep Apnoea are:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnoea - This occurs when the throat muscles relax. It is the most common type of Sleep Apnoea. About 80 to 90 per cent of adults with OSA remain undiagnosed.
- Central Sleep Apnoea - This occurs when the brain doesn’t send over proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex Sleep Apnoea Syndrome - This occurs when an individual has both Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.
The most common type of Sleep Apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a respiratory sleeping condition, in which there is an obstruction to your airways during your sleep. When you go to sleep, your throat muscles relax, causing your airways to narrow, also referred to as a hypopnoea occurrence.
When your airways narrow, this results in a blockage that prevents air reaching your lungs effectively. When your throat closes completely meaning that you stop breathing for a period of time, this is referred to as an apnoea occurrence. This can lower the level of oxygen in your blood. The sensors in your brain respond to this inability to breathe, rousing you from your sleep so that you can re-open the airway, often resulting in a choking or gasping sensation.
What should I do if I have symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
OSA is an ongoing condition that requires long term treatment for it to become effective and have an impact on your everyday quality of life and health. If you notice that you suffer from any symptoms mentioned in this article, then it is advisable that you go to your GP, speak to a sleep specialist clinic, or get a confidential, at-home sleep study. Once you have confirmed the diagnosis of your OSA, you will then be able to receive sufficient treatment and care. The most recommended and effective treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy.