Sleep Apnoea Simplified

by BTM

Tue, 03 October 2017

Sleep Apnoea Simplified

Pulmonology specialist Dr Sonal Jagtap explains the basics of sleep apnoea, a condition that can have serious consequences.

During the past few years there has been a growing awareness regarding sleep-related disorders. Sleep apnoea syndrome, more commonly known as OSA, has now been linked to a number of serious disease conditions.

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a serious disorder that occurs when a person stops breathing while asleep. During these episodes the body does not get enough oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnoea:

• Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA): The more common and more widely known of the forms of apnoea, is caused by a blockage of the airway, due to collapse of the soft tissues of the back of the throat during sleep.

• Central sleep apnoea: Is the other type of disorder, where the airway does not get blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control centre.

Risk factors for sleep apnoea include:

• Males are more commonly affected; however, women are not spared the consequences.
• Being overweight is a definite risk, but thin people can also suffer.
• Those aged over 40 are at increased risk. However, sleep apnoea can affect anyone at any age, and there is a growing incidence of the condition amongst children and adolescents.
• Having a large neck size – 17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women.
• Having large tonsils, a large tongue or a small jawbone.
• Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies or sinus problems.
• Having a family history of sleep apnoea.
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
• Alcohol, sedatives and tranquilisers may also promote sleep apnoea by relaxing throat muscles.
• Smokers are three times more likely to experience sleep apnoea.
• Heart disorders such as atrial fibrillation or atrial septal defects.
• Stroke.

If left untreated, sleep apnoea can result in a number of health problems, including:

• High blood pressure.
• Stroke.
• Heart failure, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks.
• Diabetes.
• Depression.
• Worsening of ADHD.
• Headaches.
• Poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.
• Increased incidence of cancer has been noted in patients having sleep-related stress.

Common sleep apnoea symptoms include:
• Waking up with a very sore or dry throat.
• Loud snoring.
• Occasionally waking up while sleeping with a choking or gasping sensation.
• Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day.
• Sleepiness while driving.
• Morning headaches.
• Restless sleep.
• Forgetfulness, mood changes.
• Recurrent awakenings or insomnia.

If you have symptoms of the condition, your doctor may ask you to have a sleep apnoea test, called a polysomnogram, which electronically transmits and records specific physical activities while you sleep.

Sleep apnoea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better the chances of not developing complications and the easier it is to remedy the situation. For more information email

Call 17 812-222.






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