What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night gasping for air? Have you ever had a dream where you couldn’t breathe and suddenly woke up? If you have ever had any of these experiences, then you may just have obstructive sleep apnoea.
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This is a common disorder where you subconsciously pause breathing for seconds up to minutes. Though it may not be directly life-threatening, it may be a symptom of more serious mental or physical health conditions. On top of that, it can be extremely uncomfortable and rid you of a good night’s rest.
Sleep apnoea usually develops in older people above the age of 50; however, it can begin earlier. Sleep apnoea is also more likely to occur in people who are overweight as they have narrower airway passages. It is even more likely to occur in people who have a family history or this condition.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Symptoms
It’s not easy to identify if you have sleep apnoea or not until you speak with a doctor or notice a significant impact on your sleeping habits. To determine whether sleep apnoea is becoming a concern and to consider getting it diagnosed by a doctor, the following symptoms should occur:
- Heavy breathing through the night
- Gasping for air when you wake up
- Heavy coughing during sleep
- Night terrors of not being able to breath
- Inability to comfortably sleep again
- Feeling extremely tired when waking up
The above symptoms are the more common ones. However, some people who suffer from sleep apnoea may also suffer the below symptoms:
- Headaches in the morning
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks or learning
- Feeling irritable, depressed or experience mood swings
- Urination at night
- Dry throat in the morning
- Cold sweat during the night
Dr Mayan Vats from the Rashid Hospital in Dubai, says that up to 10% of the entire population suffers from sleep apnoea. Though this is a small count, sleep apnoea deprives people of proper rest and is also linked with the development of weight gain and obesity. As you are not breathing enough during the sleep, your metabolic rate will decrease, giving you a hard time losing weight.
Sleep apnoea can be self-treated; however, it is also a good idea to seek medical attention or share your concerns with the doctor. It is because you may need medication or therapy to improve your condition. If sleep apnoea goes untreated, you may develop the following:
- An increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes
- Increased risk of developing heart conditions such as heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, heart failure or stroke
- High blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- Effect your daily life including the ability to concentrate at work or school
If you notice any of the above health complications, seek medical attention immediately. If you suffer the symptoms of sleep apnoea, it is best to speak with your doctor immediately. So you can identify what the problem is and the necessary steps you should take.
Self Treating Sleep Apnoea
1. Quit smoking
If you’re a smoker, this can be a major reason why you have sleep apnoea. Smoking will narrow your airways and cause you difficulty in breathing during the night. You’ll either have to limit it or cut it out completely.
2. Lose weight
Though this may not fix your sleep apnoea problems immediately, it certainly can help to lessen the severity and symptoms of it. Regular exercise and having a healthier body, in general, will help you regulate breathing during the day and night.
3. Avoid sleep medications
Sleep medications may be the reason you have sleep apnoea. They also make it more difficult for your throat to stay open during the night.
4. Sleep on your side instead of your back
This is another way to help keep your throat open during sleep. You can position pillows on your back to prevent you from rolling around while you’re asleep.
5. Nasal spray and allergy medicine
These are a great solution to keep your nose unclogged and helping you breathe if your mouth is closed. Allergy medicine may also help your breathing through the night. Just check with the doctor to make sure your health can take it.
Keep in Mind
If you have sleep apnoea or think you have sleep apnoea, consider making changes to your lifestyle and sleeping habits to improve the condition. Sleep apnoea is not life-threatening, but it can be quite a nuisance if it is bothering your life. If symptoms become severe and are affecting your overall health, make sure that you speak with a doctor.
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