Sleep apnoea is a serious condition that particularly affects men over the age of 45. Around 25% of the population suffers from the condition and treatments will vary. Sleep apnoea is a condition that can lead to other serious medical issues that are life-threatening.
What is Sleep Apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is not just snoring and feeling tired all the time. It is a condition that affects both men and women, particularly those older than 45. Apnoea occurs when the body is starved of oxygen and the condition is classified into two categories:
Central Sleep Apnoea
Central sleep apnoea is when the patient’s brain fails to send signals to the muscles to breathe. This causes the patient to have longer and more frequent breathing pauses (apnoea). CSA is the less common of the two, affecting about 10% of sleep apnoea sufferers. Central sleep apnoea is generally caused by:
- Weak lung muscles
- Stiff lung muscles
- Neuromuscular disorders
Central sleep apnoea sufferers are not affected by blockages or narrow airways. However, patients suffering from both conditions will generally experience the same symptoms, including:
- Feeling tired all the time
- Lack of energy
- Waking up tired (even if they’ve had a good night sleep)
- Falling asleep during the day
The best way to determine if you have CSA is to visit a sleep specialist. They’ll perform the appropriate tests to determine how to best treat your sleep apnoea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea is considered the more serious of the two conditions. It is caused by a blockage or narrowing of the air passage during sleep. The muscles of the upper airway (tongue, soft palate) relax to a point where they collapse, blocking the windpipe. Some apnoeas are mild, lasting for a few seconds, while other can last for more than a minute. Men over the age of 45 are at the greatest risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea. Factors that can lead to the condition include:
- Being overweight
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
Obstructive sleep apnoea needs to be treated immediately. If you are concerned about your sleeping pattern, speak to a specialist.
Risks Associated with Sleep Apnoea
Patients with sleep apnoea are at risk of developing other serious conditions. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart attack
- Impairment (more likely to have a fall or accident)
The lack of oxygen to your organs puts enormous stress on your body. The longer the apnoea is, the greater the chance of heart failure or stroke will be.
Sleep apnoea treatments will vary depending on the patient. Your sleep physician will determine the severity of your sleep apnoea. If it is mild, they may refer you to a dentist who specialises in treatment.
Treatment options for mild OSA involve your dentist fitting you with an oral appliance. The device is tailored to the shape of your mouth, making it comfortable to sleep. It is important to note that these devices won’t be compatible for all sleep apnoea patients.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea or you suspect you have the condition, seek medical treatment now. There are many treatments options available for sufferers. The team at Dental Care Glebe is committed to helping patients take control of this condition. Speak to a sleep physician about the right treatment options for you or ask Dental Care Glebe how we can help.