About Obstructive Sleep Apnoea: What is OSA?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a potentially dangerous sleeping disorder as episodes of apnoea reduce oxygen’s flow to the body’s vital organs and trigger irregular heart beat during sleep.
Apnoea means “cessation of breath” so it is correct to say that a person suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea stops and starts breathing numerous times during sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is marked by the occurrence of repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of a person’s upper airway while sleeping.
Apnoea and Hypopnoea
The two classifications of breathing cessation attributed to OSA are apnoea and hypopnoea. In an episode of apnoea, the soft tissues and muscles of the throat collapse causing blockage of the airway for at least 10 seconds. In hypopnoea, there is at least 50% reduction of airflow for more than 10 seconds due to partial blockage of the airway.
What happens in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
People with obstructive sleeping apnoea experience episodes of either hypopnoea or apnoea all through the night. Since there is a cessation of breath, the lack of oxygen triggers the brain to wake the person out of deep sleep so as to reopen the airway. Breathing resumes with a loud snort, gasp or even body jerk.
Mild obstructive sleep apnoea is indicated by 5 to 15 sleep interruptions per hour whereas severe sleep apnoea is indicated by more than 30 sleep interruptions per hour. It is no wonder then that people with OSA feel tired and sleepy during the day. The effects of untreated sleep Apnoea ripple out into your whole life, putting strain on work and family relationships and leading to deterioration in health and overall quality of life.
Other associated symptoms of OSA are:
• loud snoring
• poor concentration
• morning headaches
• chest pain, dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up
• mood changes and irritability
• high blood pressure
• reduced sex drive or impotence
• frequent night urination
Who Develops OSA?
OSA is more common in men. It is not contagious though some studies indicate that a person is more likely to develop OSA if he is related to someone who has it.
According to http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au about five percent of Australians experience OSA and that one in four men over the age of 30 is affected.
In the United Kingdom, statistics show that 4% middle-aged men and 2% middle-aged women have OSA.
Based on a study done by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are over 12 million people in the United States who suffer from sleep apnoea of which half are overweight. The study also indicates that 1:25 middle-aged men and 1:50 middle-aged women have OSA.
OSA is more likely to develop in Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and African-Americans. People with large or thick necks or smaller airways in their throats, noses or mouths are also more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnoea. Being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking, and taking sedatives are contributing factors that could lead to OSA.
Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Disorder
Doctor consultation and tests are necessary to properly diagnose obstructive sleeping apnoea. The condition is manageable and there are various options to reduce symptoms.
One basic option is lifestyle changes which includes cutting down on alcohol consumption, smoking and sleeping sideways.
The wearing of a mandibular advancement device (MAD) while sleeping is another option. This device holds the tongue and jaw forward thus increasing space at the back of the throat.
Using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device aids in preventing the airway from closing while one sleeps thus providing a continuous supply of compressed air through the device.
In some cases, surgery to the base of the tongue and palate done by a qualified otolaryngologist proved to be effective in treating OSA.
Here at CPAP Victoria, we have the expertise to diagnose and provide advice and treatment for snoring and sleep Apnoea. We are the leading supplier of CPAP equipment in Victoria.
Give us a call on 1300 750 006 or pop into one of our CPAP clinics Victoria – we are conveniently located in Melbourne, Wantrina and Frankston.