Posted by: John McGerr | May 29, 2012

Apnoea


Towards the end of last year I was diagnosed with Sleep Aponea – something I had never heard of prior to be diagnosed with it. According to Wikipedia ‘Sleep apnoea (or sleep apnea in American English; /æpˈnə/) is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.‘  For more on the causes, symptoms and treatments see the links at the bottom of this article, but basically for me it’s a weakness at the back of my throat that closes up and doesn’t wok the way it should so my brain has to kick me awake at regular intervals so I remember to breathe. I worked for many years on different shift patterns and would have attributed daytime sleepiness to the effect of odd sleep patterns. A change to day shifts and regular hours should, in normal circumstances have resulted in better sleep – however it did not. Now that I have been educated to the signs and symptoms I can look back and see what signs were there, in this case ignorance wasn’t bliss. One of my co-workers however was himself a sufferer and suggested that i might have it as well and got me started on the road to diagnosis. This primarily involved my spending a night in a sleep laboratory in Dublin.

The outcome? I was having 75 apnoeas or episodes every hour! Even allowing for these episodes to be of short duration that’s quite a lot of interrupted sleep. Treatment is to use a CPAP device CPAP stands for Continuous Postive Air Pressure and is basically a pump, attached by a hose to a mask that fits over the nose to keep a flow of air pressure going and lets you breathe, without your brain having to kick you awake. There is no getting away from the fact that you have to wear a mask, attached to a hose, blowing air down(up?) your nose all night – but after almost six months of it I can attest to the benefits it brings and I can live with the odd irritating aspect of life as a mask wearer. One eye-opener for me was just how many people suffer from this world wide – I don’t know the exact figures but forty five million Americans are said to suffer from it, with mabye as many wore in the rest of the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

http://www.isat.ie/faq/faqs.html

Irish Sleep Apnoea Trust

http://www.isat.ie/index.html

Home Healthcare – provider of my device

http://www.homehealthcare.ie/CPAP-Machines/

Below is a photo of the device I use, or one very similar

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