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7 Surprising Facts About Sleep Apnoea

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7 Surprising Facts About Sleep Apnoea

Millions of individuals across the United Kingdom suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). While science has made great strides in terms of diagnoses and subsequent treatment options, we are still learning more interesting details about this condition. 

In fact, some facts might even take you by surprise. Whether you suspect that you may have sleep apnoea — or you are just curious — the observations below could come as a bit of a surprise. 

Let’s look at seven lesser-known facts — and what they may signify in terms of your treatment options. 

Fact 1: The Hidden Illness

Did you know that up to 80 percent of those who suffer from sleep apnoea have never obtained an accurate diagnosis? This is largely due to manifestation of the condition itself. 

As it occurs while asleep, it can be difficult to detect the presence of obstructive sleep apnoea. The symptoms may likewise be attributed to a host of other non-related conditions. This is why many individuals tend to suffer in silence; exposing themselves to additional health risks over time. This is also why obtaining a professional at-home sleep test is the first step towards finding effective treatment options. 

Fact 2: Gender Misconceptions

One of the falsities often attributed to sleep apnoea is that its incidence is mainly limited to overweight males who snore. While there is no doubt that obesity is a causal factor, we need to look at the bigger picture. 

Women are just as likely to be diagnosed with this condition as they reach and surpass the age of menopause. In other words, females who may be showing symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea should make it a point to see their doctor (or get an in-home sleep test) as opposed to assuming that this is a male-only illness. 

Fact 3: Sleep-Apnoea is The Masked Bandit

It can sometimes be difficult to determine whether or not you have sleep apnoea. This is largely due to the fact that its symptoms are rather general in nature. These can include:

  • Dry mouth or a sore throat
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety or depression

It is therefore clear that obtaining an accurate diagnosis can be a bit tricky. This is why doctors and similar sleep specialists will take the symptoms above into account along with your normal sleeping patterns. This is also another reason why at-home sleep tests will be able to get to the root of the problem. 

Fact 4: Making a Bad Situation Worse

Obstructive sleep apnoea can become a debilitating condition if you happen to be suffering from existing respiratory issues. Common examples include emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). 

As sleep apnoea causes your airways to become narrow or even temporarily close while at rest, the symptoms of any other respiratory ailments can become vastly intensified. This may make it even more difficult to breathe while awake. 

Or you could find that you need to stop and rest while performing seemingly everyday activities. 

Furthermore, some of the methods used to treat respiratory conditions (such as an oxygen generator) cannot be used to ameliorate the symptoms associated with sleep apnoea. This is why many sufferers will instead use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. 

Anyone who has been diagnosed with a respiratory ailment and suspects that obstructive sleep apnoea may also be present should therefore speak with their physician in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis sooner as opposed to later. 

Fact 5: Sleep Apnoea Can Impact Seemingly Unrelated Areas of the Body

The very title “sleep apnoea” leads some to believe that the symptoms and associated effects are limited to the overnight hours. However, we must remember that a failure to obtain the recommended hours of sleep over time can lead to other potentially serious health consequences. 

For example, did you know that sleep apnoea may cause your body to encounter difficulty metabolising insulin? This can lead to an increased chance of developing diabetes. It has also been shown that obstructive sleep apnoea will increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension) and stroke.

Sleep is an absolutely essential process which the body requires in order to maintain a type of internal equilibrium known in the medical community as “homeostasis”. If the proper hours are not obtained, you are exposing yourself to a variety of other possible serious scenarios. In other words, there is no better time than the present to obtain a professional diagnosis. 

Fact 6: The Mental Side of Sleep Apnoea

We already mentioned that sleep apnoea can lead to depression and anxiety if left unchecked. However, this is due to much more than a simple lack of sleep. 

Our bodies produce several important regulatory hormones while at rest. Norepinephrine and serotonin are two examples. These chemicals will help to stabilise our mood and mental outlook. If they are not present at the right levels, our emotions can begin to shift. 

It has also been shown that neurological disorders such as numbness and tingling may be related to sleep apnoea. In other words, the effects of this condition are not simply “all in your head”. 

Fact 7: There are Effective Treatment Options Available

The good news is that it is normally possible to mitigate the chances of developing the conditions mentioned throughout this article if you proactively seek treatment. 

The first step is obtaining an at-home sleep test. The results of this examination will thereafter be used to diagnose the presence of sleep apnoea. You will then be provided with recommendations in regards to lifestyle changes and the chances are high that you will be prescribed a CPAP machine in order to prevent your airways from narrowing while at rest. 

Technology has come a long way and there are now numerous possibilities at your disposal. If you or someone you know has this condition, seeking help is the first step towards a healthier life. 

To order the Intus At-Home Sleep Test: https://www.sleeptest.co.uk/product/in-home-sleep-test/

To shop for the highest-quality selection of CPAP devices: https://www.cpap.co.uk/shop.html

 

Author: HELEN CLARKSON

About author: Helen Clarkson is a Sleep Specialist at Baywater Healthcare. Ms. Clarkson has worked with Baywater since 2008, working closely with patients in delivering sleep/bi-level services including sleep and respiratory, both in the home and clinic setting. This includes therapy initiation and troubleshooting support. Ms. Clarkson is responsible for delivering the Baywater Healthcare patient adherence management programme to ensure continuing patient therapy compliance. works in conjunction with NHS clinicians and procurement to deliver excellence in home and clinic-based services. She provides training on all aspects of sleep including devices and interfaces. Previously, Ms. Clarkson served as Respiratory Physiologist at Pontefract General Infirmary. Her position was Senior MTO for lung function/sleep department, and she was responsible for performing simple and complex sleep studies, sleep study analysis, CPAP initiation, therapy adherence and troubleshooting/service clinics, spirometry, lung volumes and transfer factor, reversibility, CPET, hyperventilation testing, EIA testing, skin prick testing, 6 min walk tests. She has also held roles as Respiratory Physiologist and Respiratory Technician, working closely with patients with respiratory disorders -- including ex-miners. Ms. Clarkson has a BSc (Honors) in Applied biology from University of Staffordshire. She also studied Developments in Sleep Medicine (advanced course) at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and took the Edinburgh Sleep Medicine course. She completed the BSS: Advanced sleep course and the ARTP NIV Course.
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