What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which a person stops breathing for some seconds during sleep. The episodes of not breathing occur so many times during sleep and make the oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body inadequate.

How do you know if you have sleep apnea?

Most people who have sleep apnea snore. If a bed partner nudges you while sleeping to breathe or worries about your loud snoring then you may have sleep apnea. If your sleep is not restful, you have headaches in the morning; feel very sleepy and fall asleep easily during the day then you may consider getting your sleep checked. If your blood pressure is difficult to control despite taking a lot medication for control, excluding sleep apnea will be helpful in your management.

Who is at risk of sleep apnea?

Both children and adults are at risk of sleep apnea. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for sleep apnea. This is because sleep apnea occurs when the airway around the throat collapses during sleep and subsequently blocks air flow. Obese people have a lot of fat around the neck and that can lead to pressure and collapse of the airway during sleep. Some people may not be obese but the structure of their face is such that it increases collapsibility during sleep. People who have problems in their brain such as strokes may also have a form of sleep apnea. In children obesity and enlarged tonsils increase risk of sleep apnea.

What are the consequences of sleep apnea?

Undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea has very bad consequences. Apart from tiredness, headaches, difficulty concentrating and falling asleep in the most embarrassing circumstances, it increases the risk for hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes and stroke. Many road traffic accidents have been attributed to drivers who fall asleep while driving and a good number of them had undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea. In many developed countries, commercial drivers are screened for sleep apnea as part of the licensing process.

How can I confirm if I have sleep apnea?

To confirm sleep apnea you need to have a test in which your sleep is monitored overnight. The sleep test can be done in a sleep laboratory in a hospital or at home. Home sleep monitoring for sleep apnea is now recognized as a cost effective way of diagnosing sleep apnea.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Most patients with sleep apnea will need treatment. A CPAP machine or an oral appliance used during sleep can keep the airway open. These treatments are effective in improving sleep quality and the symptoms of sleep apnea. Losing weight and some other lifestyle changes can also improve symptoms

At The Chest Clinic we have pioneered home sleep testing for the diagnosis of sleep apnea in Nigeria. Our clients can have their sleep evaluated in the comfort of their homes. Our equipment is robust and is able to confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea. We also provide continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea when indicated.