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Sleep Apnoea- Undermining the Quality of Life

Updated on February 16, 2012
The Snore
The Snore
CPAP machine
CPAP machine

Sleep Apnoea- Undermining the Quality of Life

By Tony DeLorger © 2011

Sleep Apnoea is one of those afflictions that can quietly chip away at our quality of life and in the end have serious health consequences. What is more amazing is that many sufferers of this disorder are never diagnosed. How many people do you know whose partners complain of their nocturnal snoring? It is so common that we overlook this symptom as normal, fixed by a sharp jab to the ribs and a roll over.

Unfortunately often this symptom can represent several types of sleep disorders that increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 30%. The most common form of Sleep Apnoea is called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and is defined as having episodes of the cessation of airflow during sleep, caused by an obstruction. The relaxation of the muscle tone of the throat during sleep causes the airway to collapse. Each episode causes the brain to wake up; there is usually a snort and gasp for air to breathe again.

These episodes can occur many times a night and the symptoms of OSA include-

· Loud snoring interrupted by pauses and gasps.

· Daytime sleepiness, nodding off easily, can’t concentrate

· Irritability

· Morning headaches

· Mood changes

· Anxiety and depression

· Decreased interest in Sex

OSA is the most common Apnoea and affects about 4% of men and 2% of women. Less common is Central Sleep Apnoea (CSA) where the brain doesn’t send the right signals to tell you to breathe when sleeping. Sometimes the two can combine and present as Mixed Sleep Apnoea.

Just because you snore doesn’t necessarily mean you suffer from sleep apnoea, but if you experience the above symptoms, it is important to discuss the possibility with your doctor. Severity is generally measured by the following-

Normal- Less than 5 sleep interruptions per hour

Mild- 5 – 15 sleep interruptions per hour

Moderate- 15 – 30 sleep interruptions per hour

Severe- Over 30 sleep interruptions per hour

The most common cause of OSA is obesity, with other contributing factors including, drinking alcohol in the evening (relaxing throat muscles), large tonsils, medications like sleeping tablets and sedatives, nasal congestion and obstruction.

Treatments for mild to moderate symptoms include weight loss, and mandibular advancement devices (a mouthguard than pushes the jaw forward to open the airway). For moderate to severe symptoms the most commonly used treatment is with a CPAP machine. A Continuous Positive Airway Pressure pump produces a constant flow of oxygen by a face mask to keep the airway open and the brain fully oxygenated throughout sleep.

I have just completed a sleep assessment, a recorded test that measures oxygen levels, breathing lapses, heart rates, and levels of sleep and determines to what extent I may suffer from OSA. I have displayed many of the symptoms for years and thought they were related to a depression disorder I have had all my life. It wasn’t until I slept in the same room as my kids on holiday that I found out about my lapses in breathing.

In only two weeks I will find out the results of my test, and I am convinced that I will need some treatment. The more I find out about this disorder the more I realise that it could be the cause of many of my physical problems.

In conclusion, if you have any of the symptoms of Sleep Apnoea go and see a doctor and arrange a sleep assessment. We so easily get used to subhealth, not knowing any better. This problem can be treated and a good sound sleep is so important to be able to function successfully on a daily basis.


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    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for the info sarclair.

    • sarclair profile image

      sarclair 7 years ago

      They can treat it with surgery. You should consider this.

    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for the kind words. I'm hoping that they can treat it successfully. I sure could use a good sleep.

    • Golfgal profile image

      Golfgal 7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      HI Tony, Sorry to learn about your condition. My sister was diagnosed at age 50 with severe sleep apnea. She managed to live with it for a very long time. She actually had radical jaw surgery where her jaw was broken in three places and shifted. I would not recommend that to anyone after seeing what she has gone through. Many people can be treated with a sleeping device. Best wishes to you. Keep after it until you get the results you need, a good night sleep.

    • Tony DeLorger profile image

      Tony DeLorger 7 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Thanks for your comment.

    • mylife=adventure profile image

      Casey Coulter 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      You will die of not sleeping for ten days which is shorter than if you were to starve to death. The amount of sleep you receive is very important. I know this for a fact, I'm not affected by sleep apnoea but I suffer from another sleep disorder called parasomnia. The lack of sleep really takes a toll on everything you do in life. Thanks for sharing, Great Post!!