Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where you temporarily stop breathing (apnea or apnoea) while you sleep. Your breaths could also be very shallow (hypopnea or hypopnoea).  These interruptions to your breathing can last from a few seconds to more than a minute many times an hour. Imagine not breathing for 15-60 times every hour through the night!

This condition can interrupt you from getting a good night’s sleep, causing you to be tired and sleepy during the day. It can also lead to life-threatening conditions down the track such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and brain damage.

Sleep apnea happens only while you’re sleeping. You probably wouldn’t know you had it unless someone pointed it out to you. Sleep apnea may be accompanied by loud snorting, gasping or choking. You stop breathing then your body is rudely jerked awake each time to get you breathing again.  So your bed partner would undoubtedly notice these arousals, as they’re called. Your whole family may even comment or complain of the noise!  But to be sure that you have sleep apnea and to measure its severity, you can request for a polysomnogram, otherwise known as a sleep study or a sleep test.

Watch an elderly man suffering from sleep apnea…

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There are many types of sleep apnea; and obstructive sleep apnea is the most common.  It occurs when the soft tissues inside our neck collapse on top of our airway passage while we sleep, causing blockage to our oxygen flow.

Millions of adults are suffering from some degree of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and don’t know it. The majority are males, although post-menopausal women may also develop OSA. The older a person is, the more likely they will develop this condition. Other risk factors may include excess weight, especially weight around the neck, the shape of your airway passage, and even your sleep position.

OSA can be inherited.  If you have parents and grandparents who suffered from OSA, you are more likely to have this condition, if the cause is related to neck shape.

You could also be at risk for OSA if you:

  • smoke
  • drink alcohol
  • take sleeping tablets
  • are older (older people may develop OSA because brain signals that keep airway muscles firm tend to weaken)
  • have airways that are smaller than normal
  • are overweight or obese, as you would have additional soft, fatty tissue inside and around the windpipe, which can cause obstruction

If you live in Brisbane, want to be tested for sleep apnea and prefer to have it done in your home, call us and we will arrange a home sleep apnea test at a convenient time.