Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

All of us know someone who snores, and normally we just pass it off as a natural human function. However, in some cases, constant snoring can be an indication of a more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea. In some cases, constant snoring can be an indication of a more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnoea, or OSA.

Figures released by Snore Australia revealed that up to 25 percent of Australian men and 9 percent of Australian women, live with the condition1, but just what is OSA, and how can it affect us? Read on to find out more about this potentially serious condition.

What is obstructive sleep apnoea?

In simple terms, OSA refers to when the air passage becomes blocked during sleep, which occurs when the tongue and/or soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses. This temporarily stops breathing, as the blockage stops the usual flow of air from our mouths and noses. As the brain realises that oxygen levels begin to fall, it kick starts the breathing mechanism into action, leading to the distinctive snore-like sound of OSA.

What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea?

OSA often remains undiagnosed as it sounds deceptively similar to snoring, which by itself, is harmless. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that set OSA apart from snoring, these include:

  • Waking up feeling unrested
  • Waking up with a dry or sore throat
  • Lethargy throughout the day
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loud, continual snoring
  • Waking or gasping for air during sleep
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)

How is the condition diagnosed?

It's true that some people are at greater risk of OSA than others. Typically, those with bigger tongues, narrower airways and large neck circumferences fall into this category, as well as those who are obese or regularly smoke. Only a medical professional, such as your dentist, can fully confirm the presence of OSA and provide treatment.

What are the risks of leaving obstructive sleep apnoea untreated?

Even though you may believe that OSA is just an annoying inconvenience, it should be treated seriously. That's because, when left untreated, it can potentially lead to more severe consequences for your health.

Indeed, according to Snore Australia, people with undiagnosed or untreated OSA may increase their risk of heart disease by up to seven times1. What's more, high blood pressure, strokes and type 2 diabetes can all develop due to the presence of OSA. The constant interruption of sleep can result in frequent mood swings, with depression and anxiety also reported as a result of the condition.

If you believe that you have OSA, or may be at risk from the condition, please be sure to get in touch with us on 9534 3481 today.

1. Snore Australia statistics