Sleep apnoea is a very common sleep disorder but it is rarely talked about. A person suffering from this disorder might encounter repeated upper airway disturbances during sleep, which results in intermittent cessation of breath for a few seconds throughout the night. This causes a significant drop in oxygen levels in the blood,, which results in an episode of apnoea. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Sibasish Dey, Head - Medical Affairs, South Asia, ResMed, to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea symptoms
People experiencing sleep apnoea may snort, or gasp loudly as breathing resumes during sleep. It may also lead to choking due to obstructed airways. There are daytime symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness, dry throat, and more. Other night-time symptoms include:
- Breathing cessation
- Loud snoring
- Waking up suddenly
Causes of sleep apnoea
Several factors may lead to sleep apnoea, here are some of the causes:
1. Smoking and alcohol: They are also associated with several forms of breathing problems and can be a trigger to problems like sleep apnoea.
2. Ageing: It weakens the ability of the brain to signal properly to indicate to the throat muscles to stay stiff while you are asleep. The airway can narrow due to this, resulting in sleep apnoea.
3. Obesity: Being overweight or obese can also cause sleep apnoea, because soft and fat tissues can thicken the walls of the windpipe, which restricts the air pathways.
4. Tongue size: If the tongue is thicker or larger than the opening in the windpipe, it will disrupt the passage of air into the windpipe, making it difficult to breathe while you are asleep.
5. Deviated septum: Deviated septum is a result of the deviated bone and cartilage (septum), that divides the nasal cavity in half; it is placed off-centre or is crooked in people with this condition. This disrupts your normal breathing. But, only severe conditions of imbalance of the septum can cause sleep apnoea.
How to treat sleep apnoea?
It is essential for a person to have proper rest at night, devoid of any sleep disruptions which may hinder a deep restful sleep. The body undergoes many transformations at night even while it’s in a state of rest. Essential functions like tissue repair, memory and energy restoration, release of essential hormones, muscle relaxation, and others take place while we sleep. It is because of this that we feel refreshed and rejuvenated the next day as it revitalises our mind, body, and heart. Deep sleep has a positive impact on our cognitive processes and helps us function optimally throughout the day. Hence, we must work towards eliminating any sleep issues we might have to enjoy a healthy functioning body. Following are some ways you can gain freedom from sleep apnoea:
CPAP therapy - It is the most commonly used treatment option for sleep problems such as sleep apnoea. Due to the gently blowing pressurised air through your airway by the CPAP machine, your throat is kept from collapsing.
Oral devices - Certain oral/dental devices such as advancement devices (MAD) and tongue retaining devices can be used.
Lifestyle changes - Avoiding smoking and alcohol, losing excess weight, and regular exercising can also be helpful
Maintain a proper sleep routine - Having a proper sleep schedule, and getting good sleep can help in minimising the episodes of sleep apnoea.
Given our busy schedules, we should strive for a good night’s sleep and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will not only help us in avoiding sleep disorders but also give us deep restful sleep to facilitate the best in us!
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