What is sleep apn(o)ea?
Sleep Apnea affects millions of people every year, but since it occurs at night while you sleep, people are unaware they are suffering and therefore goes undiagnosed. Signs and symptoms include unrefreshed sleep, daytime sleepiness, depression, morning headaches and going to the toilet frequently throughout the night. For many, gagging or gasping for air at times whilst sleeping or loud snoring is common.
Sleep Apnea results from the tongue and soft palate collapsing onto the back of the throat while you sleep. This obstructs the upper airway, causing airflow to be restricted or completely stop; often for more than 10 seconds at a time. Your brain signals the body that there is a lack of oxygen and adrenalin is released and you arouse, this is where you may gasp for breath. Your airway will open the obstruction in your throat clear and you will begin breathing again. This is an obstructive apnea; the process repeats itself over and over again through the night. In severe cases some people can lose breath for as much as 40 seconds over 60 times an hour.
The combination of low oxygen levels and consistent, disturbed, and interrupted sleep can causes the patient to feel exhausted throughout the day, but in some cases the patient does not even know how bad their sleep really is. It is vital that if you have any symptoms you have a sleep study to assess your risk of sleep disordered breathing; as the ill effects of Sleep Apnea can contribute to a host of very serious health concerns like cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack.