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.
It is estimated that as many as 26% of adults aged 30-70 years have obstructive sleep apnea. Contrary to popular belief, sleep apnea patients come in all shapes and sizes, not all sleep apnea sufferers snore, many are not obese or even overweight, and not all of them are male. What many people with sleep apnea have in common is the need for better and more affordable access to treatment. Learn more about sleep apnea 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.
SUPPORT IS YOUR KEY TO SUCCESSFUL CPAP THERAPY
In this presentation for Sleep Apnea Awareness Day 2020, Mark Johnson explains what CPAP therapy for sleep apnea is and how it works. If you are new to CPAP or are finding it difficult you may find this video helpful.
EVER WONDERED WHAT AN ORAL APPLIANCE FOR SLEEP APNEA IS AND HOW IT WORKS? Dentist Dr Damian Teo was live during the Sleep Apnea Awareness Day 2020. In this video presentation, Dr Teo explains what a MAS appliance is and how it works. How much they cost and what the pros and cons are between over the counter oral appliances vs custom made (by a dentist) and more.
FEELING CLAUSTROPHOBIC ON A CPAP MACHINE?
If you're currently on CPAP therapy and feel like you struggle to get comfortable and get a good night's rest, then you may find these top five elements helpful, by CPAP Direct.
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
Reading about similar experiences can be a tremendous encouragement to those who are wrestling with comparable issues. It’s proof that they are not alone. It also gives them hope. Read stories from people living with sleep apnea on our Sleep Apnea - Personal Stories page.