Snoring & Sleep Apnoea

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They often occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep apnoea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. You often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep when your breathing pauses or becomes shallow. This results in poor sleep quality that makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnoea is one of the leading causes of excessive daytime sleepiness.

How is it detected?
Sleep apnoea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can't detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there are no blood tests for the condition. Most people who have sleep apnoea don't know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member and/or bed partner may first notice the signs of sleep apnoea. The most common type of sleep apnoea is obstructive sleep apnoea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children may have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats, which can lead to obstructive sleep apnoea.

Untreated sleep apnoea can:
- Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
- Make arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), or irregular heartbeats, more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
- Sleep apnoea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management

How is sleep apnoea treated?
This depends on the severity and the cause. Sometimes it’s as simple lifestyle changes and such as losing weight. In more severe cases, most doctors will recommend a CPAP machine. This is a device that attaches over the face or nose and blows air into the airway during sleep, to keep it open. For mild to moderate cases symptoms can be treated with an Oral Appliance.