25% of the UK population suffers some form of sleep disorder that results in excessive daytime sleepiness. The following clues may help you to decide if there’s a chance that you may have sleep apnoea, which is a highly dangerous condition.
- Do you wake up most mornings with a dull headache?
- Do you feel just as tired as when you went to sleep?
- Has your partner moved to the spare room?
- Do they complain about listening to you snore loudly?
- Do you choke and appear to gasp for air?
If so, you may have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) — a condition where the upper passages of your airway close off, interrupting your breathing and depriving you of oxygen until you wake up and start breathing again. We believe that sleep apnoea affects more than 5 million UK adults but we also believe that around 80% of cases remain undiagnosed and the majority are living without treatment. OSA is a very dangerous condition to ignore.
How common is OSA?
OSA is a relatively common condition that affects more men than women. In the UK, NHS figures estimate that around 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women have OSA and these are just the known cases.
Due to the lack of diagnosis only estimates are possible – but based on the number of known cases, it is likely that this is the tip of the iceberg, and that there are around 5-6 million sufferers in reality – and due to causes like being overweight, this figure is growing fast.
The onset of OSA is most common in people aged 35 to 54 years old, although it can affect people of all ages, including children. Studies have also shown that 60% of people over 65 years old have OSA.
It is thought that up to 5% of adults have undiagnosed OSA – 3 million cases.
OSA is easy to treat but when left undiagnosed and untreated, is linked with a range of serious health concerns that include heart disease and stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure, called hypertension. Fatigue becomes a huge problem too.
Mild to moderate OSA has proved far easier to treat that severe OSA and can be helped by the use of a simple mouthpiece that moves the jaw slightly forward and keeps the airway open – so breathing can be continuous. These have a high effectiveness rate – as much as 98% – and are inexpensive, simple to acquire as they need no prescription, and you will find that they are easy and comfortable to wear.
The result is that snoring stops immediately, you feel better rested, and you are likely for fewer long-term health problems. It’s a wise investment.
If the problem persists then consult your GP who will refer you for a Sleep Test to determine more fully the problem and its severity, but mouthpieces work for most sufferers and do it fast.
By John Redfern