The Not So Silent Killer - Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Can Kill You

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition which causes people to briefly stop breathing whilst they are sleep. It can seem dramatic at the time but it only lasts for a few seconds before breathing starts again. It occurs when the soft tissues of the upper airways temporarily closed stopping the passage of air. This can result in the classic sign of seesawing of the chest and abdomen. 

The condition is associated with very loud snoring, hence the title of this post. Relatives of sufferers will certainly benefit from a good pair of moulded custom earplugs. They are especially designed to be comfortable when lying on your side in bed at night.

Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnoea includes being male, age, obesity and alcohol. Smoking and diabetes also contribute. Controlling these risk factors can significantly reduce the snoring and prevent the condition. It is important to visit your doctor if you think you may have sleep apnoea as it increases the blood pressure. This in turn increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Many people do not realise how dangerous it is.  Over the course of several years it will significantly impact your health.  This is particularly the case when combined with many of the risk factors for OSA.  By getting these under control you will reduce the OSA and lengthen your life. Visit your GP for a checkup.  If you are diabetic, make sure your BMs are controlled.  Get advice on giving up smoking.  Lose weight!

Alternative therapies include anti-snoring pillows and mandibular advancement splints. Surgery is an option. Your doctor may arrange a sleep study to get to the bottom of what's actually happening. Cases are often helped significantly by CPAP. This stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It consists of a close-fitting mask which has high-pressure air which holds the airways open. This takes a bit of time to get used to but takes away the snoring and reduces the risk factors.

It is certainly worth getting this condition under control. Otherwise it can significantly reduce the quality and duration of your life.

Dr Toby Bateson

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