Much more than simply being disruptive, snoring can be hazardous to your health. Habitual snoring carries various health consequences, but it can also be symptomatic of a much bigger medical problem. Learn more about sleep apnoea and the available sleep apnoea treatment options below.
What is Sleep Apnoea?
Sleep apnoea (or apnea) is a serious medical condition of which snoring is a symptom. It impacts many adult New Zealanders, and it is particularly common in Maori and Pacific Islander people. The increased risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality and motor vehicle accidents in people with sleep apnoea are of significant concern.
Obstructive sleep apnoea affects 4% of men and 2% of women in NZ. The incidence doubles for Maori adults. Additionally, Maoris and Pacific Islanders tend to experience more severe forms of the condition and increased co-morbidities, and one cause of this is their higher relative rate of obesity (which has a genetic basis). Obesity is, in fact, the biggest risk factor for sleep apnoea, alongside smoking and alcohol consumption.
What happens in sleep apnoea? The condition is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, due to partial or complete collapse or blockage of the airway. These pauses may last from a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur hundreds of times a night. This causes blood oxygen levels to drop. The sleeper briefly rouses for a second or two so that breathing can recommence and the person will gasp, choke, or snort.
The impacts of these disruptions to breathing (and subsequently, sleep) include:
- Oxygen deprivation
- Compromised sleep quality
- Headache on waking
- Daytime fatigue, moodiness, loss of concentration, and poor cognitive and physical performance
- Higher risk of road and workplace accidents
- Poor decision-making ability
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Higher risks of obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and even cancer
Snoring Versus Sleep Apnoea
Snoring is a very common concern. It occurs directly as a result of narrowed airways, as the soft tissues in the neck relax. The tissues of the throat vibrate during breathing, and the main causes of basic snoring include:
- Having oversized or swollen tonsils, adenoids, or uvula
- Having a deviated nasal septum
- Nasal congestion, allergies, or sinus issues
- Being overweight (especially if you carry neck fat)
- Alcohol consumption
- Back sleeping position
While snoring can create an array of issues such as sleepiness, moodiness, depression and anxiety, headaches, stress, and even major health conditions, sleep apnoea is much less common and much more dangerous both in the short and longer-term. The increased risk of death in a person with obstructive sleep apnoea is equivalent to an age increase of more than fifteen years or an increase of almost 30mmHg of average blood pressure. (Source: BPAC)
Effective sleep apnoea treatment is crucial.
Sleep Apnoea Treatment and Diagnosis
Diagnosis of sleep apnoea requires that you see your doctor. Many people do not even realise they have the condition, but habitual snorers, people who don’t sleep well, people who are overweight, or who feel tired on waking or during the day should be checked.
Diagnostic tools may include:
- Keeping a sleep diary of sleeping, waking, napping, and daytime sleepiness.
- Having household or family members record your snoring habits.
- A physical examination should check your nose, mouth, and throat, especially your tonsils and uvula. Your weight, neck circumference, and BMI should also be recorded.
- Professional sleep studies may be undertaken in a sleep lab or sleep centre. You may, alternatively, use a home-based monitor.
Sleep apnoea treatment depends on a variety of physical factors and the severity of your condition. Some people may find that losing weight, quitting smoking, and minimizing alcohol consumption is enough to solve the problem adequately.
Most people, however, require more targeted treatment. This usually involves using a CPAP machine.
CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure uses a face or nasal mask attached to a small pump. This is worn during sleep. It uses air from the room, gently pressurizes it, and delivers it into the nose or mouth to help hold the tissues of the throat open.
Other approaches may include surgery to remove swollen tonsils and adenoids or an enlarged uvula, or to repair a deviated nasal septum which causes sinus issues and breathing difficulty. Losing weight is also very important.
Some people who have mild sleep apnoea find that using a mandibular adjustment device like ApneaRX can help open the airways to alleviate snoring and minimize the effects of sleep apnoea. It is not a cure or a treatment on its own, but it may be helpful if used alongside other recommended medical treatment approaches.
ApneaRX – A Top Snoring Solution
Sleep apnoea requires a medical diagnosis and specialist medical treatment.
If you experience regular snoring, making small, significant changes to your everyday life may minimise your risks.
ApneaRX is a patented, medically proven solution to help stop snoring. A mandibular adjustment anti-snoring device, it gently and comfortably repositions the lower jaw slightly forward. This helps open the airways for easier breathing and less snoring.
Manufactured to the highest NZ Standards, ApneaRX is suitable to be used by anyone over 18 years of age.
If you want to learn more about how ApneaRX works here or call 0800 111 325.