Understanding sleep apnoea

Sleep is essential for your health and overall wellbeing. Ongoing sleep deficiency may contribute to a number of health issues that could impact your overall physical health. If you suffer morning headaches, are often tired, or are known for your loud snoring, you may have undiagnosed sleep apnoea.1

Sleep apnoea occurs when a person's airway is partially or completely blocked while they are asleep. A person suffering sleep apnoea repeatedly stops and starts breathing while asleep. There are three main types of sleep apnoea however obstructive sleep apnoea is the most common form, when the upper airway repeatedly collapses during sleep, causing breathing to stop for a period of 10 seconds or longer.1

You can get a Sleep Health Consultation at Amcal to discover your personalised Sleep Score and assess whether an overnight at-home sleep study is right for you.

  • Comprehensive risk assessment
  • At-home sleep study^
  • Ongoing in-pharmacy support

Discover how you can step into the day with better concentration and higher energy for the day ahead.

Treatment can ease symptoms and reduce the risk of other complications. Your Amcal pharmacist is trained to assist with the identification and treatment of sleep apnoea and can provide a comprehensive risk assessment.

Identifying sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the muscles that support the soft palate relax, causing the airway to narrow or close and breathing to stop for 10 seconds or longer. The brain senses the inability to breathe, and briefly rouses the sleeping person to reopen the airway. This reawakening may be accompanied by a snort, choke or gasp. In severe cases of sleep apnoea, this pattern can repeat itself more than 30 times per hour, all night long.1

The 10 most common symptoms of OSA include:

Daytime symptoms

  • Early morning headaches
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Falling asleep during routine activities

Night-time symptoms

  • Loud, persistent snoring
  • Witnessed pause in breathing
  • Choking or gasping for air
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent visits to the bathroom

Amcal Sleep Health Consultation

An at-home overnight sleep study will measure breathing patterns, airflow, blood oxygen levels and heart rate. Breathing pauses and other symptoms of sleep apnoea can be serious, but effective treatment is close by at your nearest Amcal pharmacy.

Things you should know about sleep apnoea

  • Millions of people are suffering with sleep apnoea, in fact, as many as 10% of the adult population have the condition1
  • Sleep apnoea can occur at any age although risk increases with age
  • Lifestyle changes such as weight loss can dramatically reduce the symptoms of sleep apnoea

The benefits of reducing the symptoms of sleep apnoea are noticed immediately.

You will feel like a whole new person when your treatment option restores healthy sleep patterns. Here are some questions worth asking before taking the next step toward managing your sleep apnoea and regaining quality of life.

Frequently asked questions

  • Snoring: Do you snore loud enough to be heard through closed doors?
  • Excess weight: Fat deposits collecting around the upper airway can obstruct breathing. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of sleep apnoea.
  • Neck circumference: over 17 inches for men, 16 inches for women.
  • Being male: Sleep apnoea is three times more common in men than women. The risk for women can increase after menopause.
  • Being older: Those >50 years of age are significantly more likely to suffer from muscle weakness, soft tissue damage or blockage causing sleep apnoea.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs: Alcohol and some drugs relax the throat muscles, potentially causing or worsening sleep apnoea.
  • Medical conditions: Congestive heart problems, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are some medical conditions that are potentially worsened due to obstructive sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is a serious medical condition. Unless treated effectively, sleep apnoea can cause other ailments and health problems. Complications of sleep apnoea may include:

  • Daytime fatigue, severe drowsiness, irritability and a lack of concentration.
  • High blood pressure or heart problems: Obstructive sleep apnoea increases the risk of heart failure by 140%.
  • Type 2 diabetes: 58% of people with Type 2 diabetes have OSA. Ongoing sleep deprivation means that less insulin is released in the body after eating. The stress hormone cortisol is then released making it even harder for insulin to do its job effectively.
  • Metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels.
  • Complications with medications and surgery due to breathing difficulties.
  • Sleep deprived bed partners of loud snorers struggle with the consequences of sleep apnoea.

A person with moderate obstructive sleep aponea or severe sleep aponea may stop breathing for 10 to 20 seconds at a time, hundreds of times per night.1 Fortunately, there are several ways of managing sleep aponea at Amcal. Options include:

  • Take our sleep apnoea quiz to better understand your risk for OSA. If your results indicate you should speak to a pharmacist, see your Amcal team to discuss options.
  • At-home sleep test: Book an appointment for a Sleep Health Consultation with your Amcal pharmacist who can assess if an at-home sleep test is right for you. The results will help us provide you with the best possible follow-up and sleep apnoea treatment plan.
  • CPAP therapy: The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnoea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. With a CPAP machine, the user’s airways are kept open with the aid of a face mask and breathing apparatus.
  • Lifestyle changes: Simple adjustments to everyday habits can help reduce the symptoms of sleep apnoea. Shedding a few kilos, cutting down on alcohol, giving up cigarettes and exercising can all contribute to better quality sleep.
  • Oral appliances: Dental appliances open the space behind the tongue, soft palate and mandibular area, and are known to help prevent snoring and help mild OSA patients.

Undiagnosed or untreated sleep aponea and sleep deprivation can lead to serious health complications.

These include diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, poor blood oxygen levels, hypertension, irregular heart rate (atrial fibrillation), heart attack, cancer, obesity, plus cognitive and behavioural disorders.1

Common signs of sleep aponea include:

  • Reduced or absent breathing during aponea events
  • Frequent and loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep

Common symptoms of sleep aponea include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • A decrease in attention, concentration and motor skills
  • Morning headaches or dry mouth when waking up
  • Decreased libido or sexual dysfunction
  • Waking up often during the night to go to the bathroom

Not all snorers have OSA, but if snoring is accompanied by other symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness or obvious breathing pauses during sleep, it may be time to visit your doctor or Amcal pharmacist for further evaluation.

A home sleep aponea study uses a simple breathing monitor that tracks breathing patterns, heart rate and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.

An Amcal overnight at-home sleep study provides data for a sleep physician to review. Your in store sleep aponea consultant will discuss your results and any recommended sleep aponea treatment. You may qualify for a four-week trial of CPAP therapy, and ongoing Amcal support is always available.

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Just ask Amcal

While sleep apnoea is extremely common, help is available.

Get in touch with your local Amcal pharmacist regarding a Sleep Health Consultation and treatment plan, and start to appreciate more energy, greater alertness, and a positive outlook.

We stock a superior range of sleep health products from leading manufactures, supported by trained and qualified pharmacists who understand the healthcare needs of Australians.

For more information about obstructive sleep apnoea, sleep problems or sleep medicine, speak to your Amcal pharmacist.

Australia’s largest pharmacy sleep network and home to expert health advice and service.

1. Pharmacy Sleep Services 2020, https://www.pharmacysleepservices.com.au/what-is-obstructive-sleep-apnoea-osa/

2. Benjafield et al., Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis, UC San Diego, 2019.