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What is Obstructive
Sleep Apnoea (OAS)?

Symptoms of Obstructive
Sleep Apnoea

Dangers of Obstructive
Sleep Apnoea

How is Sleep Apnoea


Many people who snore have a disorder known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) when breathing stops periodically during sleep. This is due to the soft tissues in the throat, including the tongue, falling backwards and obstructing the airway. Normal breathing slows or stops completely causing blood oxygen levels to drop. The brain senses this and needing oxygen acts to arouse the person from deep relaxed sleep. With arousal, muscle tone returns, allowing the airway to open again, usually with a loud gasp, and breathing begins again. 

Unfortunately when a person with OSA falls back into deep sleep the muscles relax again and the cycle repeats itself again and again over the course of the night. In OSA the apnoeas can last 10 or more seconds and this cycle of apnoea-obstruction and breathing can be repeated hundreds of times per night in severe cases. The classic picture of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea includes episodes of heavy snoring that begin soon after falling asleep. The snoring proceeds at a regular pace for a period of time, often becoming louder, but is then interrupted by a long silent period during which no breathing is taking place (apnoea). The person struggles to breathe and the apnoea is then interrupted by a loud snort or gasp after which the snoring returns to its regular pace. This behaviour recurs frequently throughout the night. Symptoms are often worse when lying on the back in the deepest and dreaming phases of sleep.

Most people suffering obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) are unaware of their disrupted sleep, and low blood oxygen levels but awaken unrefreshed, feeling tired and in need of more sleep. During apnoea people make constant effort to breathe against their blocked airway, which has been associated with cardiovascular problems.

Older, obese men seem to be at higher risk, though as many as 40% of people with obstructive sleep apnoea are not obese. OSA also affects females although female hormones and a difference in throat anatomy may protect women until the menopause. Nasal obstruction, a large tongue, a narrow airway and certain shapes of the palate and jaw also increases the risk of sleep apnoea. A large neck or collar size is strongly associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Ingestion of alcohol or sedatives before sleep may predispose to or aggravate episodes of apnoea.

During the apnoeas, the oxygen level in the blood falls. Persistent low levels of oxygen (hypoxia) may cause many of the daytime symptoms. If the condition is severe enough, pulmonary hypertension may develop leading to right-sided heart failure or cor pulmonale.

The condition known as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) lies midway between benign snoring and true obstructive sleep apnoea. People with UARS suffer many of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea but normal sleep testing will be negative.

The good news is that Sleep Apnoea and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome can be treated easily and effectively. Don’t wait to fall asleep at the wheel before seeking treatment.
Contact DentSLEEP Clinic today at 1-300-1-SNORE (1-300-1-76673)
for an appointment to assess your problem and determine the best treatment for you.

  When breathing stops periodically during sleep. DentSLEEP - The Snoring Clinic Perth
Australian Dental Association

Australasian Sleep Organisation

American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine

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