Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a relatively common condition where the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interruptingnormalbreathing.
Thismay lead to regularlyinterrupted sleep, which can have a big impact on quality of life and increases the risk of developing certain conditions.
This topic covers:
When to seek medical advice
There are two types of breathing interruption characteristic of OSA:
People with OSA may experience repeated episodes of apnoea and hypopnoea throughout the night.These events may occur around once every one or twominutes in severe cases.
Asmany people with OSA experience episodes of both apnoea and hypopnoea, doctors sometimes refer to the condition as obstructive sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome, or OSAHS.
The term "obstructive" distinguishes OSA from rarer forms of sleep apnoea, such as central sleep apnoea, which is caused by the brain not sendingsignals to the breathing muscles during sleep.
The symptoms of OSA are often first spotted by a partner, friend or family member who notices problems while you sleep.
Signs of OSA in someone sleeping can include:
Some people with OSA may also experience night sweats and may wake up frequently during the night to urinate.
During an episode, the lack of oxygentriggers your brain to pull you out of deep sleep either to a lighter sleep or to wakefulnessso your airway reopens and you can breathe normally.
These repeated sleep interruptions can make youfeel very tired during the day. You'll usually have no memory of your interrupted breathing, so youmay be unaware you have a problem.
See your GP if you think you might have OSA.
Theycan check for other possible reasons for your symptoms and can arrange for an assessment of your sleep to be carried out through a local sleep centre.
As someone with OSA may not notice they have the condition, it often goes undiagnosed.
For most people this doesn't cause breathing problems.
In people with OSA the airway has narrowed as the result of a number of factors, including:
OSA is a treatable condition, and thereare a variety of treatment options that canreduce the symptoms.
Treatment optionsfor OSA include:
Surgery may also be an option if OSA is thought to be the result of a physical problem that can be corrected surgically, such as an unusual inner neck structure.
However, for most people surgery isn't appropriate and may only be considered as a last resort if other treatments haven't helped.
It's your legal obligation to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about a medical condition that could have an impact on your driving ability.
Once a diagnosis of OSA has been made, you shouldn't drive untilyour symptoms are well controlled.
The GOV.UK website has advice about how to tell the DVLA about a medical condition .
It's not always possible to prevent OSA, but making certain lifestyle changesmay reduce your risk of developing the condition.
Read about obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a condition where the walls of the throat relax during sleep and interrupt normal breathing.
Read about diagnosing obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which usually takes place at a sleep clinic, or by using a testing device worn overnight at home.
Common treatments for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) include making lifestyle changes and using breathing apparatus while you sleep.