What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common, but serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep due to the blockage of the upper airways. It occurs when the walls of the throat relax and narrow, disturbing normal sleep. It causes pauses in breath and each pause is called an apnea.
There are two kinds of OSA. Apnea is characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. The airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more. The second type, Hypopnea, is a partial blockage of the airway, which causes the airflow to be reduced by 50% or more, for 10 seconds or above.
Interruptions in your sleep might lead you to feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed. You may also notice a decrease in alertness and productivity. Traditional treatment is to use a CPAP machine and mask, which alleviates the problem when the breathing stops, but is awkward and uncomfortable to use.
What causes Sleep Apnea?
When breathing is paused, carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream, which sends a signal to the brain to wake up and breathe in air.
What are the symptoms?
These are the most common symptoms , however its common for someone else to spot them first, such as a partner or friend.
Symptoms when asleep:
- Loud snoring
- Noisy and laboured breathing
- Restless sleep
- Urge to urinate during the night
Symptoms when awake:
- Not feeling refreshed when waking up
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Poor memory and concentration
- Headaches, first thing in the morning
- Feel irritable, mood swings
- Loss of libido
How can it be treated?
Sleep Apnea can be easy to treat. You may wish to consider the following:
- A continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP) – a continuous flow of compressed air through a mask
- A mandibular advancement device (MAD), which is a gum shield to keep the back of the throat open during sleep
- Changes in lifestyle such as avoiding alcohol, losing weight and quitting smoking.
- Using SoeMac to breathe energised oxygen during the night