Understanding Sleep Apnoea
If you suffer from OSA the muscles in your throat collapse while you are asleep. This prevents you from being able to breathe for anything from 10 seconds to a minute, and can happen multiple times during the night. Being deprived of oxygen is a dangerous state to be in so your brain tries to wake you up to make a contingency plan – usually by opening your mouth to enable breathing. You may wake up fully or partially and gasp before falling back asleep again. For most people they aren’t fully aware of what is happening but their bodies and brains are not able to get a full or high quality night’s sleep.
It is believed that approximately 5% of local Australians suffer from OSA, with the majority of patients being males. It’s further estimated that one in four sufferers is a male over the age of 30.
What Are The Major Signs Of Sleep Apnoea?
Not everyone displays all sleep apnoea symptoms. In fact, in many cases, it is the bed partner of the person who suffers from it who complains about having sleep disturbances. Knowing what to look out for can be life-saving because low quality sleep affects your body and brain on many levels.
Sufferers of OSA are also found to experience other health problems such as
- Being at higher risk of stroke
- Being at higher risk of developing diabetes
- Experiencing more headaches and migraines
- Poor concentration and memory recall
Having sleep apnoea also places you at higher risk of experiencing a motor vehicle accident. It has also been found that smokers are at higher risk of developing sleep apnoea than non-smokers.
Furthermore, sufferers of OSA are also more likely to experience personality changes, moodiness and depression, ostensibly because of the ongoing interruptions to their sleep and their inability to get a high quality night’s rest.
The primary symptoms of sleep apnoea include:
- Tiredness, fatigue and sleepiness during the day due to broken sleep patterns
- Frequent lapses in breathing (which are often noticed by your bed partner)
- Waking up during the night gasping or choking for air
- Teeth grinding or bruxism, which is often noticed by your bed partner
- Unexplained wear and tear on the teeth, which may be picked up by your dentist during a routine dental examination
- Poor memory and concentration
- Frequent urination during the night
- Lower sex drive and / or impotence
What Causes Sleep Apnoea Symptoms To Present?
- Being obese or overweight is one of the leading causes of sleep apnoea but there are other factors that can influence a person’s likelihood of developing it. These include
- Drinking alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. This is because alcohol relaxes the muscles of the throat and affects the brain’s ability to regulate breathing.
- Use of medications, such as sleeping tablets and sedatives, which can make OSA worse.
- Mouth breathing due to blocked or congested sinuses or nasal passages.
- The shape of the facial bones and muscles, including an undershot jaw or enlarged tonsils which can contribute to sleep apnoea in children.
How Can The Signs Of Sleep Apnoea Be Treated?
Generally, the contributing causes of your OSA would need to be evaluated to find the best course of treatment for you. This is because it may be that there are a number of contributors that play a role. Some treatment strategies may include one or more of the following suggestions:
- Quitting or significantly cutting down on alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Quitting smoking
- Correction of medical conditions such as enlarged tonsils or the low production of thyroid hormone may need to be considered.
- Addressing nasal congestion through the use of nasal sprays or elevating your head during sleep
- Losing weight may be a major help for you if you are carrying extra weight. If you do not exercise, introducing regular physical activity can really help with getting a good night’s rest and will help you to maintain a healthy weight.
- Making use of a mouth guard at night will help to protect your teeth against wear and tear if you are grinding or clenching because it keeps your mouth in an open and forward position while you sleep.
- An oral appliance or device known as a nasal continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP may be required if a mouthguard is not effective. This manages the air pressure in your throat in order to prevent your airways from collapsing during sleep. There are a number of CPAP masks and machines available, and you would need to find a combination that best suits our individual needs.
Are you exhibiting the signs of sleep apnoea and need help managing your sleep apnoea symptoms? There’s no need to suffer in silence. We can assist you with an integrated treatment solution. Please contact us for a confidential appointment: