Do you or your partner snore? Have you ever been told that you stop breathing during your sleep? Poor sleep, headaches in the morning, and falling asleep at work or during the day can be an indicator of potential sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea can have significant health consequences.
What is sleep apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is a disease where breathing is greatly diminished or even stopped during sleep. Most commonly this is caused by blockage of the airway with the tongue slipping back or the soft tissue of the nose blocking air from travelling into the lungs.
The blocking of breathing can lead to low levels of oxygen in the blood that can increase blood pressure as well as the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, stroke, or even sudden cardiac death. Because sleep apnoea greatly disturbs normal sleep, daytime sleepiness can double the risk of car accidents due to decreased concentration and some people falling asleep at the wheel.
If you have been told, or you have witnessed your partner stopping breathing during sleep it’s an important symptom that needs to be investigated.
What are the common symptoms of sleep apnoea?
If you notice any of the following:
- witnessed stopping of breathing while sleeping
- morning headaches, dry mouth or sore throat
- restless sleep
- waking not refreshed
- daytime sleepiness and falling asleep during the day
You may be suffering with sleep apnoea. Other risk factors include being male, having a neck diameter of 17″ or more, being heavy set, or any abnormality of the nose or upper airway.
If you feel you may be suffering with sleep apnoea it is important to have a review with your family doctor. Diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference to energy levels, mood and health. If you work as a driver or cars, trucks or other heavy machinery, it’s vital you see your doctor as undiagnosed sleep apnoea can put lives at risk if you were to fall asleep while at the wheel.
The good news is that there are a number of excellent treatments available. Your doctor is the first port of call to organise the initial investigations for getting your sleep sorted.
Yours in great health.