People snore very often – men and women.
Did you know that heavy snoring may be related to a health problem that affects your breathing and other complications?
Or perhaps you know someone who snores very heavily and often complains of poor slee during the day? Let’s tell you about OSA…
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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
Also known as OSA, it’s when a person briefly stops breathing during sleep.
It could happen several times over the night leading to interrupted sleep patterns.
We believe OSA happens due to a partial or total blockage of the airway while asleep.
In OSA, there is excessive weakness of the muscles in the back of the throat during sleep leading to a blocked airway.
When this happens, the oxygen level temporarily reduces – which sends a message to the brain and the body works to overcome the blockage and pull air into the lungs.
This usually happens with a loud snort or jerking – after moments of no breathing.
People with OSA can suffer from serious health problems such as abnormal heart rhythm, high Blood Pressure and reduced blood flow to the organs.
Who is at risk of getting OSA?
The following groups of people are more likely to develop OSA:
- Men tend to be more likely to develop OSA than women
- It is more common in overweight people because the fat cells around the throat make it more likely for obstruction to happen – although OSA can affect slim people.
- People with Diabetes Mellitus and High Blood Pressure
- People with a particular physique – individuals with a large thick neck, big tonsils and a large tongue.
- Deviated Nasal septum – the nasal septum is the piece of tissue (made of bone and cartilage) that divides the nasal cavity in half. If the septum becomes ‘off-centre’ or deviated it can lead to breathing problems. The condition can be treated by realigning the tissues through via surgery.
What are the Symptoms of OSA?
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime sweating
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Source – Mayo Clinic
Treatment for OSA
As it is a condition that occurs during sleep, an individual with OSA may not be aware it’s happening.
Thus most often, a relative who observes their unusual sleep pattern would encourage them to visit the doctor.
The diagnosis of OSA is made by obtaining clear details of the symptoms listed above – and the use of sleep studies where these are available.
People with OSA will be seen by a sleep specialist – usually a respiratory physician.
However, adopting some lifestyle measures may help improve the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications:
- Weight loss
- Sleeping on one’s side instead of on the back
- Avoid the use of Alcohol and Sleeping pills which contribute to heavy sleeping
- Use of a CPAP machine. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, CPAP is applied by the use of a machine to prevent the muscles of the throat from relaxing and causing the blockage. Learn more about CPAP here.
People who snore may have OSA. If you; or someone you know snores heavily and has some of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important to see your doctor.
The faster this condition gets a diagnosis, then the quicker you can start some treatment.
What’s been your experience with trying to get treatment for snoring? Is OSA under consideration? Let us know in the comments section below.
Editing By AskAwayHealth
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