Late last year, beloved Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher passed away, which was sad and shocking news for the world. It has recently come to light that the actress and author passed away as a result of sleep apnoea and other factors, which begs the question... What exactly is sleep apnoea and what can we do about preventing it? Here at Health and Care, we want to make sure that you have all the facts you need to understand what sleep apnoea is and how you can go about treating it.
What is Sleep Apnoea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a condition where a person's breathing stops during sleep. This is due to the walls of the throat relaxing and narrowing during sleep, thus interrupting normal breathing for seconds - and in some cases, several minutes - at a time. OSA is officially recognised in a person if their breathing stops for more than 10 seconds at a time.
Since breathing is vital in circulating oxygen around our body and brain, this lack of oxygen from frequent pauses will take your brain out of deep sleep, or even wake it up altogether so your body can restore normal breathing. This irregular breathing pattern often leads to frequently interrupted sleep, which can have a large impact on quality of life in the long run.
Causes of Sleep Apnoea
It's completely normal for the soft tissue and muscles in the throat to relax to some degree while sleeping, as for most this doesn't cause any breathing problems. There are, however, a number of factors that can contribute to developing OSA:
How Can I Tell If I Have Sleep Apnoea?
As OSA is a condition that affects you in your sleep, you may not even know you have it. Although, if you sleep with a partner, or live in a house with particularly thin walls, you may have others notice your loud snoring. Snoring is not uncommon, with as many as one in four people in the UK snoring regularly. However, if family and friends notice that your snoring is unusually loud, or sounds particularly laboured, this is often a tell-tale sign of OSA.
Some people who have OSA may also experience night sweats and find themselves frequently having to get up in the night to go to the toilet. If you also feel like you're waking up many times in the night, or feel exceptionally tired even after a full eight hours' rest, it is wise to visit your GP.
Is Sleep Apnoea Treatable?
There are a variety of different treatment options to reduce symptoms of OSA. However, it is important to know that these are not quick-fix solutions and will often need lifelong commitment.
It may feel like a cliché, but keeping a healthy lifestyle where you get plenty of exercise and eat lots of fibre, protein, fruits and vegetables will do wonders with your general health. To further prevent worsening symptoms of OSA, it is wise to not smoke, to reduce alcohol consumption, and to avoid taking sedative medications.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
This is a small pump that delivers a continuous supply of compresses air through a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Although it is not the trendiest of headwear and can feel a bit odd or uncomfortable at first, many suffers of OSA see vast improvement when using CPAP devices.
In more extreme cases, surgery might be recommended for you; however, this is only in the most extreme circumstances. There is a range of surgical procedures that can help beat OSA, a common one being a tracheostomy, where a tube is inserted in the neck to allow you to breath freely at all times.
Sleep Apnoea Solutions at Health and Care
Here at Health and Care, we have a range of products that will help you keep sleep apnoea away and, in turn, improve your health. If you're only suffering from light, slightly bothersome snoring, Rhynil Stop Snoring Spray may be your answer to keep your breathing passages open, with it even been approved by the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association. Otherwise, we have a range of CPAP products, from masks to memory foam pillows, to ensure OSA is kept at bay.