Sleep Apnea- What is it?
Sleep apnea isn’t only snoring or disturbed sleep but is a serious health concern where sufferers completely stop breathing or have their breathing restricted. The episodes of restriction can happen hundreds of times each night causing a shortage of oxygen and a build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood. With a drop in oxygen the body is triggered to “wake up” enough to initiate breathing.
Apnea sufferers completely stop breathing. It is identified by periods of no sound or gasping sounds followed by forceful inhalation of air. It is important to identify the difference between these symptoms and plain old snoring!
Left untreated sleep apnea leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Depression, severe sleep deprivation and impaired liver function are also well documented side effects.
Are you at risk?
Studies suggest that over 80% of sufferers in Australia are yet to be diagnosed. 86% of those diagnosed are obese (compared to 60% of people in the normal weight range).
What can you do?
Marla Garrod from Sleep Apnea Care suggests a comprehensive diagnosis is vital. There are many types and causes of sleep apnea and identifying which category you fall will direct your treatment strategy. Treatment varies from oral devices used to alter the jaw position, positional advice and most commonly known, a CPAP machine.
Testing involves either an at-home sleep test or an overnight lab stay where patients are required to sleep with sensors monitoring heart rate, breathing and brain waves. This information will be discussed in a follow-up appointment and treatment plan made.
Encouragingly Marla ensures us that small changes make big improvements. Lifestyle modifications are the easiest to implement and make significant changes to most sleep apnea symptoms.