A – Z of Illnesses & Conditions

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea: Sleep Apnea is a temporary suspension of breathing occurring repeatedly during sleep that often affects overweight people or those having an obstruction in the breathing tract, an abnormally small throat opening, or a neurological disorder.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by obstruction of the upper airway. Central Sleep Apnea occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing.

The signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apneas include: excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea, episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person, abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath which more likely indicates central sleep apnea, awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat, morning headache, difficulty staying asleep (insomnia) and attention problems.

It is not always possible to prevent OSA, but making certain lifestyle changes may reduce your risk of developing the condition. These include:
  •     losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  •     limiting your alcohol consumption and avoiding alcohol during the evening
  •     stopping smoking if you smoke
  •     avoiding the use of sleeping tablets and tranquillisers

You should see your doctor if you think you might have OSA. They can check for other possible reasons for your symptoms and can arrange for an assessment of your sleep to be carried out through a local sleep centre.


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