Apnea means absence of breath. Sleep apnea occurs when the airway in the throat collapses during sleep reducing airfow or completely blocking the airway. This disrupts sleep and reduces oxygen supply to vital organs.
Severe sleep apnea affects about 5% of adults. Mild to moderate forms occur in 20% of adults. There can be various reasons why a person may stop breathing in their sleep. Learn more below.
Things to know about sleep apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway collapses during sleep. Although the person is making an effort to breathe the airway is blocked and breathing is prevented.
(also known as Mandibular Advancement Devices) Oral appliances are indicated for those with mild and moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). They may be also used in people with severe OSA who are unable to tolerate a CPAP machine.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
(or CPAP) is used to treat OSA, and may sometimes be effective in CSA. This is a machine that produces air at a high enough pressure to hold the airways open. There are fixed pressure CPAP machines, and automatic machines that adjust the pressure upwards only when you stop breathing. Some models allow completely different pressures for inhaling and exhaling (BiPAP).
Childhood Sleep and Snoring
You don't often think of children snoring or suffering from sleep apnea, but surprisingly a number do. The condition can be serious and may lead to health problems such as failure to thrive, developmental delay or behavioural problems.
Snoring occurs when air does not flow smoothly through the air passages, or when the soft tissues in your throat vibrate during sleep. Snoring can occur in all age groups, but the largest affected group is the middle aged. Snoring may be associated with long term health problems such as an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
Sleep apnea and sleep deprivation, whether reduced quantity or disturbed quality, may be a contributing factor in other diseases, such as High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity and Nocturia.
Things to Avoid
There are things that can make sleep apnea worse, and even if you are on CPAP treatment, they should be avoided. Alcohol relaxes muscles and may worsen apnea, as may sleeping tablets which depress the drive to breathe. A person’s normal CPAP pressure may be insufficient if the person is under the effects of alcohol or sleeping tablets. Other things that disrupt sleep such as caffeine or late night eating should also be avoided.
CPAP Buddy Program
CPAP can be a difficult therapy to get used to and typically requires persistence and support. For those that can use CPAP it can make an incredible difference to one's life. Our CPAP Buddy Program aims to connect established CPAP users to new users, with the hope of supporting them through their initial use of the machine. The people listed below are experienced CPAP users who know how tough the journey can be. They are kind enough to make themselves available to you in your time of need and have provided their contact details to help new users as much as they can.
Karen Grainger -
Joe Soda - (07) 3378 1610 or 0415 486 587
Peg Hibbert - (02) 9489 8876
Arthur Hunt - (07) 4939 1332 (North Qld)
CPAP Cleaning and Maintenance
Regular cleaning of your CPAP machine and its components is important for the function and longevity of your equipment. Learn more here
For information in general about sleep apnea please contact our Sleep Apnea Team