Occasional brief episodes of sleep apnoea are harmless and are quite common in a normal adult. People with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) often snore loudly. From time to time you may stop breathing and may snort or choke as well as snore. This interrupted breathing pattern interferes with restful sleep. It affects daytime alertness and makes it difficult to function well during the day.
You may experience hundreds of episodes each night, symptoms may include:
- Loud and irregular snoring
- Breathing pauses during sleep
- Choking during sleep
- Sleepiness when awake
- Headaches on waking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depression and irritability
- Memory loss
If Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is left untreated there can be long-term risks. For example, there is an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Also, daytime tiredness can contribute to accidents.
The good news is that Obstructive Sleep Apnoea can be treated.
What to do if you think you have sleep apnoea?
Visit your GP and discuss your symptoms. Your GP may carry out some initial tests or refer you to a hospital consultant.
Diagnosis of sleep apnoea may be made on symptoms alone. Often, however, overnight-sleep studies are needed to confirm the diagnosis and assess the severity of apnoea episodes.
The consultant may advise you to reduce your weight and limit alcohol intake before sleeping, as these can aggravate the symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.