If you snore regularly and experience constant daytime sleepiness, you may have a condition called "sleep apnea." Although it is as widespread as asthma and diabetes, sleep apnea often remains undiagnosed—a "hidden epidemic."
This checklist can help you identify some of the other signs of sleep apnea.
- Has your partner noticed that you gasp or stop breathing during sleep?
- Do you often wake up feeling unrefreshed?
- Do you sometimes feel excessively sleepy during the day?
- Have your energy and motivation levels decreased?
- Do you find it difficult to concentrate?
If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may be at greater risk from sleep apnea.
- Are you overweight?
- Are you a heavy snorer?
- Does anyone else in your family have a history of snoring and sleep apnea?
Did you know that sleep apnea is associated with serious health conditions?
- Do you suffer from high blood pressure?
- Have you suffered a stroke or heart attack/ disease?
What exactly is sleep apnea?
Normally, the muscles that control the upper airway relax during sleep. If they relax too much, the upper airway becomes narrow and some people begin to snore. If the airway becomes too narrow, this may cause breathing difficulties. Sometimes, the airway becomes completely blocked and the person temporarily stops breathing, experiencing an "obstructive apnea." This can last for ten seconds or more. It may happen frequently—even several hundred times a night
If you have this condition, every time an apnea occurs, you struggle to breathe, placing stress on your brain and heart. Night after night, your sleep is disrupted. You experience the kind of tiredness that affects the quality of your life, work, and relationships. Your partner may hear the tell-tale signs of sleep apnea while you sleep—snoring followed by a period of silence, and then, perhaps, a loud snort or a gasp as you resume breathing.
Serious risks to your health
Recent research shows that snoring and sleep apnea are associated with many serious conditions. Left untreated, they are a contributing risk factor in high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.
- More than 35% of people with sleep apnea suffer from high blood pressure, increasing their risk of heart disease.'
- Significantly, 83% of people who continue to suffer from high blood pressure despite taking three or more drugs, also have sleep apnea.
- Almost 70% of people who have had a stroke have sleep apnea.
- A person with sleep apnea is seven times more likely to have a car accident.
Can this condition be treated? How?
Yes! There is a very effective, widely accepted treatment for sleep apnea called nasal positive airway pressure therapy. A bedside device gently delivers pressurized air through a small mask or nasal pillows system. This pressure acts like an "air splint" to keep your upper airway open and help prevent apneas.
This treatment doesn't involve drugs or surgery and helps hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to enjoy healthier sleep and healthier life. Many experience the benefits quickly—often during the first night of use.
A good night's sleep—every night
ResMed offers the complete solution for sleep apnea, including well-fitting, comfortable masks or nasal pillows systems and quiet, easy-to-use, travel-friendly devices.
Do you think you might have sleep apnea?
Take the Epworth Sleepiness test at the back of this brochure and consult your physician. They may refer you to a sleep specialist, to test you specifically for sleep apnea.
The Epworth Sleepiness Scale
How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times.
Even if you haven't done some of 'these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
0 = would never doze
I = slight chance of dozing
2 = moderate chance of dozing
3 = high chance of dozing
Situation: Chance of dozing Score 0—3
- Sitting and reading
- Watching TV
- Sitting, inactive in a public place (eg a theatre or meeting)
- As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break
- Lying down to rest in the afternoon when
- circumstances permit
- Sitting and talking to someone
- Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol
- In a car, while stopping for a few minutes in the traffic
The higher the score, the greater the chances of a diagnosis of Sleep apnea. This test is not a substitute for professional medical diagnosis and treatment you have any concerns regarding your health, do seek professional medical advice.