What is obstructive sleep apnoea?

Obstructive sleep apnoea

Put simply, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is habitual and loud snoring that is associated with cessation of breathing for several seconds and up to two minutes. This results in decreased oxygen and increased carbon dioxide levels in the blood.

This cessation of breathing and increase in carbon dioxide in the body triggers the brain to wake up so you can start breathing again. This episode is called an apnoea.

At the less serious end of the scale, habitual snoring and OSA can lead to headaches and fatigue the following day. These side effects can be harmful and dangerous, even at this end of the continuum due to the disrupted sleep. Watch a video of what happens to an OSA sufferer during sleep in the Useful Links section.

As the disease becomes more severe, OSA is associated with a range of other chronic medical conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity (a cause and effect of OSA), heart disease and stroke. Research has also highlighted a link between snoring and diabetes.