What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

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Obstructive sleep apnoea is a breathing problem that can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. It is called Obstructive sleep apnoea because of the following reason:

Obstructive :      there is an obstruction in the airway of your throat

Sleep:                     it happens when you are asleep

Apnoea:               this means you stop breathing

Essentially when you are asleep your throat muscles relax, in some people a narrower airway results in snoring but if your throat closes completely you stop breathing for a time. For some people this happens throughout the night and it is diagnosed as OSA.

OSA disrupts your sleep and will therefore make you sleepy during the day and if it is left un treating it can have a big impact on your life. You may feel exhausted when awake and could doze off at any time. It is not safe to drive if you suffer with OSA and if you do not get help it can have a big impact on your health.

Symptoms of OSA

When asleep:

  • Snoring
  • Stopping breathing or struggling to breathe
  • Feeling of choking
  • Tossing and turning
  • Sudden jerky body movements
  • Needing to go to the toilet in the night

When awake:

  • Waking up sleepy and unrefreshed
  • Headache in the morning
  • Difficulty concentrating and feeling groggy, dull and less alert
  • Poor memory
  • Feeling depressed, irritable or other changes of mood
  • Poor co-ordination 
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Heartburn
  • Poor quality of life

If you have the symptoms of OSA you should discuss them with your GP or a private GP who will probably refer you to a sleep clinic. As OSA is a long term condition this may result in you needing to have lifelong treatment to control the symptoms.

Information sourced from The British Lung Foundation;  https://www.blf.org.uk/

For people who have private medical insurance it is important that you check your own policy details to see whether you have cover for the treatment of sleep disorders. Very often sleep disorders are excluded from cover under the general terms and conditions of your policy and any private treatment would need to be self-funded.

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