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The Facts about Sleep Apnoea

What is Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition where the walls or muscles of the upper airway relax in such a way that inevitably blocks the airway during sleep. This results in an interruption of air supply to the lungs. It can last up to a minute or more, and may occur numerous times throughout the night.

Your brain soon realises that there is a problem, and the body is not receiving any oxygen. The brain will “wake up” briefly and will shock the cardiovascular system in order to clear the airway. During this period, your partner may notice you suddenly gasping for air.

Why is sleep apnoea dangerous?

During each episode of apnoea, the air supply to the lungs is interrupted. This means that the oxygen circulating the body through your blood decreases, as there is no fresh air available to replenish what the body has used. This results in a serious medical condition as it reduces the supply of oxygen to vital organs such as the brain and heart.

What are some of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnoea?

Some sufferers may not exhibit all the symptoms but may experience:

  • Snoring.

  • Episodes of gasping or choking during sleep.

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

  • Lack of energy and endurance.

  • Disturbed or restless sleep.

  • Poor memory and concentration.

  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking.

  • Increased frequency of urination during the night.

What are the effects of sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea can have significant effects on your sleep and overall health including:

  • Disturbed sleep.

  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

  • A change to your body’s normal metabolic processes.

Who is at risk for this condition?

Some of the known risk factors of sleep apnoea include:

  • Obesity.

  • Age over 65 years.

  • Family history of sleep apnoea.

  • Certain facial abnormalities, including a high, narrow, elongated soft palate, small chin, small jaw.

  • Cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

  • More common in males than females.

Around 9% of women and 25% of men in Australia have significant sleep apnoea*

Contact us for help

If you are concerned you may suffer from sleep apnoea, book a consultation today with our dentists on (02) 8411 2674 and we can discuss your treatment options.


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