Sleep Apnoea

Written by Steve on .

ABOUT SLEEP APNOEA
Do you snore loudly and persistently? Do you wake up gasping for breath? Do you doze off while reading or driving? Do you often feel tired, fatigued or sleepy during the day? If you do, chances are you might be suffering from Sleep Apnoea.

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep Apnoea is a sleep disorder characterised by irregular or interrupted breathing during sleep. People suffering from Sleep Apnoea may stop breathing completely during sleep, sometimes up to hundreds of times per night. This results in continuous sleep interruption leading to poor sleep quality, which will in turn increase the risk of other possible health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, narcolepsy and cardiovascular disease.

There are two types of Sleep Apnoea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of Sleep Apnoea, OSA is caused by the airways collapsing during sleep when the throat muscle relaxes. This causes very shallow or paused breathing, and the brain sensing this, temporarily wakes you up to allow the airway to reopen. Breathing usually resumes with a loud gasp, snort or body jerk.

Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA): Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked. But due to an imbalance in the brain’s respiratory control center during sleep, the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, causing the individual to miss breathing cycles.

What are the symptoms of Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep Apnoea can occur in men, women and children of all age and sizes. Daytime drowsiness, irritability, morning headaches, depression, impotence, memory loss and lack of concentration are all other symptoms of Sleep Apnoea, but some patients have no symptoms at all. The most common Sleep Apnoea symptoms include:

Loud persistent snoring
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Choking or gasping for air during sleep
Early morning headaches
Depression and irritability
Restlessness during sleep
Frequent night time visits to the bathroom
Sexual dysfunction

Who are at high risk for Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep Apnoea can occur in men, women and children of all age and sizes. However, here are some increased risk factors:

  • male gender
  • increasing age
  • obesity (Body Mass Index more than 30)
  • alcohol
  • large neck circumference (greater than 43cm/17" for men, greater than 41cm/16" for women)
  • post menopause
  • sleeping tablets
  • family history of obstructive sleep apnoea
  • smoking
  • cardiovascular related disease

How do I find out if I have Sleep Apnoea?

Consult your GP for a referral to get yourself tested by having an overnight Sleep Study. This can be either done at a hospital or at home. At High Wycombe Pharmacy, we provide Home-based Sleep Studies. This is done at the comfort of your own home. The patient is wired up to a portable sleep device that measures sleep, breathing and oxygen levels. A Sleep Specialist will then review the information collected and provide a treatment recommendation to your referring GP, most likely a trial of CPAP.

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