About sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder that affects your breathing while you sleep. It ranges in severity and can potentially be very serious. Effective treatment and careful management are recommended in moderate and serious cases, while minor cases can often be controlled with positive lifestyle choices and short-term treatment. If you struggle for breath when you are sleeping, you snore or you regularly wake up feeling like you’ve not slept well, this could be a sign of sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea occurs when the airway becomes blocked completely for periods of 10 seconds or longer. This happens because the throat muscles relax and cause the airway to become obstructed.
How dangerous is sleep apnoea?
In the most severe cases, sleep apnoea can be fatal, as it affects your ability to breathe. In the case of serious sleep apnoea, treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure is usually recommended. This involves wearing a mask at night to ensure oxygen can flow into the body constantly.
In minor cases, simply making lifestyle changes can often have a very positive effect. Being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol are major risk factors for sleep apnoea and dealing with these issues often improves or even eradicates symptoms. Losing weight, doing exercise, giving up smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol you consume, especially during the evening, can all be hugely beneficial.
When should I see a doctor or dentist?
If you struggle with snoring, feel tired during the day and gasp for breath when you’re sleeping, it’s a good idea to seek medical help. There are usually effective solutions for snoring and sleep apnoea and these could help to ensure that you and your partner enjoy more restful nights.