Sleep Apnea is a common disorder affecting a number of people and occurs when a person experiences pauses in breathing or shallow breaths whilst asleep.

These pauses can range from a few seconds to minutes in some cases and can happen between one and thirty times in an hour.

The pauses are often ended with a loud snort or choking sound, at which point normal breathing starts again – until the next pause.

Sleep Apnea disrupts sleep patterns, as the person experiencing the condition goes from a deep sleep into a shallow, more restless sleep when their breathing pauses or becomes shallow. This can result in daytime exhaustion and sleepiness and interrupt the body’s restoration, healing and resting cycles.

It is hard to diagnose Sleep Apnea, as it cannot be detected in blood tests and doctors may not pick it up during routine patient visits. As it only occurs during sleep, a family member or bed partner would often be the first to notice the condition.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of Sleep Apnea. This is when the airway becomes blocked or collapses which causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses. When a person tries to breathe, the air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Even though OSA is more common among those with weight issues, it can affect anyone.

If OSA is left untreated, the person suffering from the condition may have an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, strokes, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks or even heart failure. It can also increase the risk of workplace and driving accidents. Treatment for OSA involves long-term management and a change in lifestyle, which may include interventions such as mouthpieces, surgery or breathing devices.

Treatment can, however, only be prescribed once a person has been diagnosed with OSA. This is often done in a sleep center, where the person with potential OSA stays over and is monitored overnight. This is an expensive option though, and not necessarily accessible to all.

Health Renewal has recently introduced a new, more flexible and affordable solution for those wanting to test for the condition.  The FDA approved test allows concerned patients to test for the disorder at home. Sleep therapists consult with patients beforehand to understand the medical history and current symptoms with the test itself being done at home.

At home, the patient sleeps with a special device, which records essential information, such as heart rate, airflow, respiratory effort, the amount of oxygen in the blood and the different sleep phases. This information is stored on the device and the data is extracted and assessed by the Health Renewal sleep therapist. A neurophysiologist writes a report in order to provide an accurate diagnosis in the event of OSA. Both Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as well as Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) can be detected using the home device.

Should results for either OSA or UARS come back positive, patients are referred to a Health Renewal doctor to discuss a treatment plan. The treatment plans vary based on the severity of the sleep Apnea, and may include treatment options such as supplements, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devise or a mouthpiece.

If you feel exhausted during the day, or if your partner has noticed unusual breathing patterns while you sleep, contact Health Renewal on 086 126 3972.

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