Sleep apnoea is a deadly sleep disorder that gets worse as you grow older. Not only does sleep apnoea cause sleep deprivation, but worse still, it can pose danger to your life. Do any of the following apply to you?
You’re always sleepy during the daytime. You often feel depressed. You wake up many times at night catching your breath. Your sleep is restless. You wake up with a sore or dry throat. Your loud snoring wakes up the household. You’ve become forgetful, your attention wanders, and you experience wide mood swings.
If you plead guilty to all or most of these, then you probably have the disorder obstructive sleep apnoea – called OSA.
There are many possible causes of these symptoms individually, but when several of them occur together, it’s possible you are experiencing “sleep apnoea.” Apnea is a Greek word meaning “without” (a-) and “spirit” (pnea) and this is exactly what’s happening while you sleep. You stop breathing anywhere from 10 seconds to minutes, possibly hundreds of times each night, or your breathing becomes abnormally shallow over a period of time.
Anyone can have OSA and according to recent statistics, millions of us who suffer from sleep apnoea are not even aware of it. The majority of those suffering are overweight and heavy snorers. Estimates say that there appear to be about 12 million North Americans and around 2 million British sufferers. It’s believed, as well, that 90 per cent of cases go totally undiagnosed either because they’re not reported, or because people don’t know they have it, so the actual number could be as many as 120 million in North America, and almost 20 million in Britain; well over one third of us and increasing.
Sleep apnoea is a serious disorder and needs remedy. Our cells need a constant supply of oxygen to stay alive. Our breathing apparatus provides that oxygen while removing carbon dioxide that can be lethal if it builds up.
In short, the problem with apnoea is that your body is being undersupplied with oxygen and oversupplied with carbon dioxide. This leaves one open to the possibility of serious health problems, including diabetes, liver function impairment, cardiovascular problems and various other illnesses.
Most cases of OSA occur because the upper part of your airway becomes obstructed. As you fall asleep, the muscle tone of the whole body tends to relax. Because the airway, the upper part of the pharynx, is composed of muscular walls, these can collapse, and so it’s not surprising that breathing can be obstructed during sleep.
Chronic cases of OSA are treated by a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. It’s a device that maintains steady air pressure, a hose and a mask. It may take a while to get used to this machine, but they are vital for reducing the symptoms of sleep apnoea for those in severe distress.
CPAP however has some drawbacks, and for those who can’t tolerate it there are alternatives, and oral appliances are recommended as it is seen as better to have some treatment rather than none.
Certain oral appliances are now medically recommended to treat the many mild to moderate sufferers who form the majority. The most widely used one is the MAD (mandibular advancement device); it’s very much like a sports mouth guard. It works by forcing the lower jaw slightly forward and down, which keeps open the airway.
Bespoke versions such as SleepPro Custom are available to fit your jaw exactly and comfortably and will not only stop OSA from happening, but when used repair much of the previous damage. Recent tests conducted by Papworth Hospital, who are England’s leading specialist Hospital in these matters, has recommended the SleepPro Custom be used as the leading device by mild and moderate sufferers.
Whatever you do when you become aware of the symptoms of sleep apnoea, DO SOMETHING. As mentioned earlier, this is a serious breathing disorder and can lead to some very unpleasant health consequences.