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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common sleep disorder and affects approximately 4.7 percent of Australian adults. One in 10 men aged over 45 have moderate-severe OSA.

OSA has significant clinical consequences and is associated with leading causes of death in adults, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease

It also causes excessive daytime sleepiness, impaired quality of life, cognitive dysfunction and motor vehicle and job-related accidents.

What are the most common symptoms of Sleep Apnoea?

Sleep apnoea generally involves the following symptoms:

  • Unrefreshing or restless sleep, particularly in a snorer
  • Regular loud snoring (audible from another room)
  • Nocturnal startles or choking
  • Witnessed apnoeas (partner’s report)
  • Nocturia
  • Night sweats, insomnia and restless sleep
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sleep-related driving ‘incidents’
  • Cognitive impairment

How is Sleep Apnoea treated?

The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, which aims to reduce the number of breathing pauses experienced during sleep. CPAP is delivered via a device attached to a specifically fitted mask that gently blows air into the back of your throat to keep the airway open. Alternatives to CPAP therapy may include dental devices, medication, lifestyle changes or, in some instances, surgery.

If you suspect you have OSA, you should visit your GP as soon as possible. If your doctor believes you have OSA, depending on its severity, you may be referred to BOC Healthcare for a home sleep study or to a respiratory physician for more detailed tests in a hospital.

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I have been snoring loudly for almost 30 years. Approximately two months ago, my GP brought to my attention that my gradual loss in memory, frequent naps and disrupted sleep was not something I had to live with. in November 2013 I was diagnosed with sleep apnoea following my overnight home sleep study with BOC, so I went on a CPAP trial. Honestly, I did struggle with therapy for the first three weeks; it didn’t feel natural to me. However, once I have gotten used to it, the number of uninterrupted nights of sleep increased.

I now sleep for an average of five to six hours, waking up energetic and refreshed. No more toilet breaks during the night and my partner can now sleep without interruptions for the first time after our marriage. It was an obstacle, but I am thankful that there was someone to guide me through the first few weeks of CPAP.
— Nan in NSW, 2013