What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?

Diagram of patiant with OSA?

Almost 90% of Australians suffer a sleep problem sometime in their lives. Some may be easily recognized and corrected with lifestyle change, whilst others require complex tests and medical assistance to treat correctly.

Besides causing tiredness and compromising memory, motivation and mood, sleep apnoea ranks in the top ten risk factors for other diseases in the Australian population. This means it causes more ill health than alcohol in our community.

Obstructive Sleep apnoea (OSA) is one of the most common sleep related breathing disorders amongst adults. Snoring, daytime tiredness, irritability, broken sleep, poor memory, concentration and lack of motivation occur in people suffering from sleep apnoea. Often the partner's quality of sleep is compromised either due to the snoring or their awareness that their partner ceases breathing which can lead to relationship stresses.

People with sleep apnoea repeatedly stop breathing during their sleep – usually because of a blockage in the back of the throat due to the collapse of soft tissues obstructing the airway. This can cause drops in blood oxygen levels, elevated heart rate and blood pressure. These changes can affect long term heart and brain health as well as day to day well–being. Brief awakenings to recommence breathing lead to broken sleep resulting in tiredness despite reasonable bedtimes.

Sufferers may wake with a suffocating or choking feeling. This is a condition that occurs in both men and women and is often noticed in snorers because when the snore stops, partners notice that breathing has also stopped. Snoring and symptoms of sleep deprivation are the usual reasons people with sleep apnoea see their doctors to finally get diagnosed.