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News, trends and information surrounding sleep apnea and sleep health in South Africa.

I Wake Up Exhausted- Should I Worry About Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders with 25% of adults worldwide and 50% of cardiovascular disease patients suffering from OSA. Yet an estimated 80% of cases remain undiagnosed!

Some simple indicators for Sleep Apnea while you are sleeping are:

If you have these symptoms, then a simple check would be a test called STOPBANG. Click here to view the STOPBANG Questionnaire.

The STOPBANG is a World Health Organisation (WHO) screening tool to assist in Sleep Apnea diagnosis. A score of +4 (out of 8) indicates a high correlation to Sleep Apnea.

If you do have a 4+ score then you should discuss with your GP or doctor who can assist you and if needed refer you for a Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT). 

People with sleep apnea are unaware that it could be an underlying cause of, or worsening of, other health problems. Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may cause serious long term health problems including Cardiovascular Disease, Abnormal Heart Rhythm, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and Stroke.

Consequently it is important that you do address any concerns with your doctor.

Sleep Apnea has been known to affect your health as follows:

  • Heart Diseases– Sleep apnea has been linked to:
    • Hypertension– Sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, a condition that can make your breathing worse if you already have sleep apnea
    • AFib: Irregular heart rhythm
    • Stroke
    • Heart Failure
  • Diabetes- People with sleep apnea are more likely to have Type 2 Diabetes and vice versa. Sleep Apnea can make your diabetes more difficult to manage.
  • Low Blood Oxygen Levels– Repeated pauses in breathing during the night can deprive your body of the oxygen it needs to function
  • Abnormal Cholesterol– People with sleep apnea are more likely to have high LDL (“and”) cholesterol levels- a factor in heart disease
  • Depression– People with sleep apnea are more likely to be depressed than people without this sleep disorder
  • Acid Reflux– People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often complain of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can worsen heartburn.
  • Adult Asthma– Sleep apnea can worsen asthma symptoms and increase your risk of asthma complications
  • Memory Loss and Confusion– Sleep helps consolidate memories. People with sleep apnea are more likely to experience memory loss. A lack of sleep can leave you mentally foggy, making it harder to solve problems or think clearly
  • Decreased Sexual desire– Sleep apnea can curb your sexual desire in men. It might contribute to erectile dysfunction.
  • Liver Problems– Sleep apnea has been linked to fatty liver diseases and higher than normal level of liver enzymes

There can be long term implications to your health if you do not address Sleep Apnea. Start by doing the STOPBANG and discussing with your doctor.

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