Several risk factors contribute to the development of sleep apnoea syndrome, and they may present in different combinations in different people. Obstructive sleep apnoea is one of the most common sleep disorders that can pose significant risks to your health if it is left untreated. Fortunately, a number of management strategies exist, which can help you restore your quality of life and get a refreshing night’s sleep. In this article, we will detail the different causes of sleep apnoea syndrome and how you can manage them.
What Is Sleep Apnoea Syndrome?
The word syndrome refers to a group of symptoms that appear together consistently. If you have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), you stop and restart breathing continuously when you are asleep.
With OSA, the muscles of the airways collapse, blocking the airflow to your lungs. One of the most common symptoms that occur in people with obstructive sleep apnoea is snoring.
The muscles of your throat are supposed to support your soft palate, tongue, uvula, and tonsils. When you have sleep apnoea, these muscles relax too much to allow for normal breathing. When this happens, it can stop you from breathing for intervals of 10-seconds or more. The effect of this is less oxygen and more carbon dioxide building up in your blood.
Your brain tries to wake you up so that you can reopen your airway and resume normal breathing. Because you are awake for such a short interval, you don’t remember it consciously. Still, it is invasive enough to disturb you from getting a good night’s rest, mainly because it happens throughout the night.
In patients with obstructive sleep apnoea, these episodes can occur as often as five to 30 times per hour. You might not know what has happened, but you will certainly experience the side effects and symptoms the following day.
What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnoea?
Some of the most common sleep apnoea symptoms include
- Loud snoring
- Extreme daytime fatigue
- Constant urination at night
- Waking up at night, choking or gasping
- Night sweats
- Interruptions in breathing throughout the night (this is often observed by a bed partner and not necessarily the person who has sleep apnoea)
- Experiencing a sore throat or dry mouth when you wake up
- Frequent headaches
- Daytime concentration problems
- Lower libido or sexual dysfunction
- Mood swings
- High blood pressure
What Are Some Of The Causes Of Sleep Apnoea Syndrome?
While the direct causes of sleep apnoea syndrome have yet to be discovered, there are several risk factors that predispose a person to suffer from the condition:
Naturally narrow airways
If your anatomy is such that you already have narrow airways, you may be more likely to suffer from OSA.
Your chances of developing OSA increase as you get older.
Carrying extra weight
Carrying extra weight, particularly around your neck, can contribute to OSA. Additional fat around your neck can put your airways under pressure, contributing to their collapse.
Smokers are at greater risk of developing OSA.
Statistically, men are two to three times more like to develop sleep apnoea. Women are more likely to develop the condition after menopause.
If you suffer from nasal congestion
If you experience chronic nasal congestion, you are twice as likely to develop OSA. Nasal congestion causes narrower airways.
People with asthma are more likely to develop sleep apnoea.
There appears to be a genetic component for OSA. If it runs in your family, you are more likely to suffer from it.
Certain medications and medical conditions
Obstructive sleep apnoea has been observed in patients who have polycystic ovary syndrome and hypothyroidism.
People who take sedative medications or opioids may also experience its symptoms.
If you are taking any chronic medication and identify with any of the symptoms listed above, you should discuss your medication schedule with your doctor.
Snoring or upsetting your bed partner aren’t the only ways that OSA can interrupt your quality of life. There are a number of medical complications that can compromise your overall health and wellbeing, so managing your condition is vital:
The sudden and extreme drop in oxygen puts additional strain on your cardiovascular system, repeatedly. If your OSA is severe, the implications for your cardiovascular health may also be severe. You are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, putting you at risk of stroke and heart attack.
Feeling constantly drowsy compromises your judgement and can result in you making errors that threaten your well-being or that of others. Not getting good rest at night means that your brain can’t function optimally, affecting your mood, concentration, memory, and your ability to learn and regulate your behaviour.
When a person has OSA, there is a greater risk of complications when you are under anaesthetic. You are also at increased risk of complications after surgery.
Treatment Options For Sleep Apnoea
Regardless of what may have caused your OSA, managing and treating it should be a priority. In addition to making lifestyle changes like losing weight, reviewing your medications, and establishing good sleep hygiene, you should consider a sleep study and evaluate possible treatment options.
Some of the treatment options available include
- Oral appliances like mandibular advancement splints
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
For help with determining your causes of sleep apnoea syndrome and the best treatment options for your lifestyle, please contact us at (03) 9068 5357.
Obstructive sleep apnea
obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)