Sleep Apnea is a sleep condition which affects between 10 and 35 percent of the adult population in the western world and possibly as many as 15% of children. It is estimated that there might be as many as two million Australians who have obstructive sleep apnea without knowing it.
It is characterized by disrupted breathing, where breathing actually stops for more than ten seconds and in severe cases for more than a minute at a time. The body works hard to start breathing again, and the brain wakes up so that the person can take a conscious breath – usually gasping for a breath.
The reason the breath stops is because of a blockage in the airway. This blockage can be due to the tongue dropping back towards the back of the airway, the soft tissues of the airway softening too much as they relax during sleep, enlarged tonsils, the soft palate being too close to the back of the throat, or too relaxed, or a combination of any of these.
The end result of this process is sleep deprivation and reduced levels of Oxygen in the blood. This, and the chemical processes associated with the reduced oxygen cause various health issues, including some very serious health conditions.
When the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops, the brain then detects the lack of oxygen and prompts a momentary arousal to draw breath. Although OSA sufferers may experience hundreds of apnea episodes per night, they are unlikely to remember any of them. In fact, if the sufferer lives alone or sleeps separately they may not be aware of their condition, even after many years.
OSA is notoriously under-diagnosed with less than 15% of cases in the community being identified.
- Do you and your partner sleep in seperate rooms due to loud snoring?
- Do you doze off unintentionally during the day?
- Do you often wake up feeling tired or having a headache?
- Do you have problems concentrating for long periods of time?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering fom sleep apnea and it is essential that you seek the right treatment option.
Did you know?
- Regular snorers have a 33% increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Patients with OSA are four times more likely to have a heart attack.
- 40-80% of stroke sufferers also suffer from OSA.
OSA is a serious medical condition that can have a significant impact on quality of life, placing unnecessary strain on relationships between bed partners, family and the work place. If you have been heard to gasp for breath at night, are excessively sleepy during the day, or display symptoms of OSA such as:
- Loud snoring
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Reduced resistance to infection
…you should consult Sydney Sleep Dentistry about alternatives for treatment.