Daytime sleepiness, fatigue, frequent desire for naps, morning headaches, irritability, insomnia, poor memory and concentration can lead to problems at work and within the family, however, despite a busy social and work life these symptoms may not necessarily be the result of an enthusiastic lifestyle.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common, often under-diagnosed condition which results in sufferers getting insufficient periods of good-quality deep sleep whilst apparently asleep in bed.
Most commonly the disorder is caused by obstruction and collapse of the upper airway during sleep which results in complete cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more (apnoea) during which time no air passes into the lungs. This in turn lowers blood oxygen levels and the sufferer moves from a deep level of sleep to a shallower one. This cycle of events can repeat itself many times during the night, thereby completely disrupting normal sleep patterns.
In some cases sufferers wake up completely, but in others the airway is only partially obstructed, reducing airflow significantly but not waking the patient. Whilst not as severe as complete apnoea, hypopnoea also disrupts the level of sleep. In most cases there is a combination of apnoea and hypopnoea.
OSA is estimated to affect up to 4% of the general population, with men suffering more commonly than women in the under 50s (over the age of 50 the incidence is the same for men and women). 70% of people who are obese experience OSA and the condition worsens as BMI increases, but other anatomical disorders of the mouth, throat and neck can also cause the condition.
It is estimated that only about 10% of people with OSA are receiving treatment.
Disrupted nocturnal sleep results in poor concentration, slow thinking and poor memory during the day. Studies have shown that this can result in more accidents in the work place. People suffering from OSA having a three-fold increased risk of having a car accident when compared to the general population. If untreated, OSA is also associated with an increased risk of developing other medical conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, heart failure and cardiac rhythm abnormalities, which may lead to premature death.
If you think you may be suffering from sleep apnoea, contact our reception team to book an appointment with our specialist physician Dr Haider.