If you have exhausted patients, their partners complain about their snoring, or they’re falling asleep at work or while driving, they may have sleep apnea. Early intervention could improve their relationships or save lives
Sleep apnea (also known as sleep apnoea) is a dyssomnia caused by the pharyngeal muscles relaxing during deep sleep and collapsing into patient’s airway, causing the patient to snore, stop breathing, jerk awake a little, then fall asleep again. The patient usually wakes exhausted from lack of sleep and oxygen.
The patient may not know they suffer from sleep apnea because 80% of the people with the condition are believed to be undiagnosed1. Up to 6% of the population suffers from sleep apnea2,3 – increasing to 77% in obese people4.
Patients usually present suffering from exhaustion, are referred by their partner due to snoring or decreased sex drive, or following an accident caused by them falling asleep.
The physiological process of sleep apnea – the closing of the airway, waking, breathing, etc. – is normal when it happens infrequently. However, a cycle of more than five times per hour indicates sleep apnea:
|Normal||Fewer than 5 interruption per hour|
|Mild sleep apnea||Between 5 and 15 interruptions per hour|
|Moderate sleep apnea||15 to 30 interruptions per hour|
|Severe sleep apnea||More than 30 interruption per hour|
Sleep apnea can occur in all age groups and body morphologies but there are several factors that dramatically increase the likelihood of sleep apnea:
Identifying the presence of two or three of the common symptoms of sleep apnea indicates that a sleep test may be an appropriate next step in the diagnosis. Symptoms include5:
Co-morbidities of sleep apnea include:
Poor cardiovascular health6,7
Type 2 diabetes10,11,12,13