What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a condition that causes you to repeatedly stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep. Each pause in breathing lasts for at least 10 seconds but can continue for over a minute. If you have sleep apnoea you will often experience symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness and restless sleep. You also stand a higher chance of snoring.

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Their are 3 main types of sleep apnoea – Obstructive, Central and Mixed. Each type of sleep apnoea has a particular set of risk factors. If you have one or more of those risk factors, you are more likely to develop that type of sleep apnoea.

Also in this section: Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, Causes of Central Sleep Apnoea, Causes of Mixed Sleep Apnoea, Snoring and Nasal Obstruction.

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If you have sleep apnoea you are likely to experience several distressing and disruptive symptoms. These symptoms vary in severity and can happen during the night-time, daytime or when you first wake up in the morning.

Also in this section: Symptoms checker, Night-time symptoms, Morning symptoms, Daytime symptoms.

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It is easy to spot the external signs of sleep apnoea, such as excessive daytime sleepiness and lack of energy. Unfortunately people do not realise how much of a detrimental effect sleep apnoea can have on their internal organs. Commonly affected organs include the heart, brain, liver and kidneys.

Also in this section: Heart and blood vessel disease, Diabetes and metabolic syndrome, Frequent urination at night, Eye disease, Chronic kidney disease, Fatty liver disease, Depression, Loss of libido, Driving.

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Getting tested

If your doctor suspects you have sleep apnoea, you will be referred to a sleep centre for an overnight sleep study. Your levels of daytime sleepiness will also be estimated using a questionnaire and occasionally a practical test. These tests will help to diagnose your sleep disorder and assess its severity.

Also in this section: Overnight oximetry, Semi-polysomnography, Full polysomnography, Questionnaires for daytime sleepiness, Tests for daytime sleepiness, How bad is your sleep apnoea?.

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All treatments for Obstructive or Central Sleep Apnoea aim to eliminate most apnoeas, reduce snoring and daytime sleepiness and give you a refreshing night’s sleep. Most importantly, they are designed to increase your lifespan and quality of life.

Also in this section: Treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, Treatments for Central Sleep Apnoea, Tips on getting a good night’s sleep, Weight loss.

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CPAP therapy

CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. It is the main treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – a condition that causes your airways to close repeatedly during sleep, blocking the passage of air to your lungs. A CPAP machine provides pressurised air to hold your airways open, allowing you to gain a refreshing sleep.

Also in this section: What is a CPAP machine?, CPAP masks, Maintaining CPAP equipment, Health benefits of CPAP, The CPAP way of life.

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