If you are a big snorer, or if you know someone who is, then you may want to find out about sleep apnoea.Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder that is largely characterized by heavy snoring. It is important to consult a physician if you have a severe snoring problem and find out if you have this disorder; it is easily treatable. First, however, you may want to know a little more about its other symptoms, possible causes, and some of the treatments available. Understanding sleep apnoea better will also help to ease any fears you may have. Here is what you need to know.
Regular snoring is not the only indication of this disorder, and it is not enough for a diagnosis. Some of the other signs include waking up breathless, choking and gasping during sleep, daytime fatigue, depression, restless sleep, daytime headaches, and impaired concentration and memory.
There are three different forms of sleep apnoea: obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnoea. The first involves your throat relaxing, causing tissue to block the airway. The second kind involves a problem with the brain’s activation of the muscles involved in breathing. Snoring does not often occur with this kind. The third kind involves both obstructive and central sleep apnoea.
Causes and Risk Factors
There is a higher risk for sleep apnoea in people who are overweight, above fifty years old, smoke regularly, or have high blood pressure. The condition is also more common among males than females. Other contributing factors are heart disease, allergies, and other respiratory conditions.
While you may or may not have a lot of the symptoms or risk factors described, it is still best to consult a sleep specialist. This is especially because you may not even be aware of some of the symptoms you exhibit as many of them happen while you are asleep. Since you cannot report any such signs to the doctor, you may need to go through a sleep study. This involves special equipment and overnight observation by doctors. A sleep study can yield an accurate diagnosis and provide comprehensive details about the exact nature of the condition.
Depending on the type and severity of the condition, treatment can be as simple as learning how to stop snoring with a few techniques and anti-snoring or breathing devices. More drastic measures may involve surgery. The disorder is largely manageable with a few lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising, and avoiding cigarettes, caffeine, alcohol, and sedatives. Other simple ways to alleviate the symptoms include sleeping on your side and elevating your upper body with the use of a large pillow or foam wedge. It may help to also take up activities that will strengthen the muscles in your throat and mouth. You could take up singing or the didgeridoo, which not only strengthen those muscles but also improve muscle control. This will help to prevent your throat from closing up easily.
Now that you have this information and a better understanding of sleep apnoea, you should speak to a doctor to be diagnosed and treated if necessary.