Sleep apnea – what are the warning signs of sleep apnea?

As regular readers know we are big fans of using infographics to promote medical education.

Today we would love to share with you a new infographic on the sign and symptoms of sleep apnea. And yes it is scary.

You can check out the original here at the Sleep Education web site.

Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea

Feeling sleepy all the time? Then you might have Sleep Apnea – find out more here

Gifographic for Sleep Apnea

From Visually.

National Stop Snoring Week 2014 debunks snoring cures that don’t work. Find out more about Sleep Apnea!

National Stop Snoring Week
National Stop Snoring Week

The annual National Stop Snoring Week begins on Monday April 28, 2014 and the theme this year will be: Stop snoring – a sensible approach to successful treatment. The aim of the week, as always, is to inform the public about snoring and sleep apnoea and about ways to get help. More than 200 large companies, hospitals, GP surgeries, libraries, health centres and other charities will be participating.

Throughout the week, experts from the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA) will be appearing on local BBC radio stations and in articles across a variety of publications to address the simplest of worries for snorers: “I’ve tried everything, but nothing works”.

Marianne Davey, MSc, director the BSSAA, said: “We will be using National Stop Snoring Week this year to make it clear that there is no single, universal remedy for snoring. We’ll explain how snoring is an individual problem and why different types of snoring need different treatments. And we’ll be commenting on the current recommended clinically proven treatments and revealing – perhaps controversially – the very many popular items that actually have no place in the treatment of snoring.

“We’ll be discussing the importance of finding the cause of the snoring before trying to treat it, how to go about getting the right treatment and how to avoid the pitfalls of buying products that have no value.”

The BSSAA will also be launching its own novel treatment aimed at individuals whose snoring is caused by ‘mouth breathing’: people who sleep and breath with their mouth open, which is perhaps the most common basis for snoring and is not only noisy but also unhealthy, leading to bad breathe, decaying teeth and much more.

Marianne Davey explained: “To stop mouth breathers from snoring it is necessary to keep the mouth from dropping open. There are simple mouth guards already on the market, designed to keep the mouth closed, as well as the Chin Up Strip, a ‘smiley’ shaped micro-pore fabric that fixes around the bottom of the chin to prevent it from dropping open. But the BSSAA is currently trialling a new device with very encouraging results, which we’ll be revealing during National Stop Snoring Week.”

National Stop Snoring Week runs throughout the UK from Monday April 28 to Friday May 2, 2014.  You may be interested in a previous blog on the subject of sleep apnea we ran last year looking in more detail at treatment options

British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA) is a not for profit charitable organisation helping people to get a better night’s sleep.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is defined as the cessation of airflow at the nose and mouth during sleep due to an obstruction in the upper airway.

For further information about National Stop Snoring Week and the BSSAA, please go to

Post-Polio Syndrome. An illness of the past which still haunts us.

post polio syndrome
post polio syndrome

We should never underestimate the impact of the life sciences (like medicine) on the life of our planet and species over the last couple of centuries.  Indeed some sources suggest that human life expectancy across the globe rose on average 35 years per person in the twentieth century.

As many readers know I consider Jonas Salk, the person who discovered the polio vaccine and refused to patent it, to be one of the very great figures of the last century.  Sadly while politicians seem to get their statues all over the place his vital work goes almost unrecognised.

The scourge of polio (and that is not a cliché) is well on the way to being eradicated across the globe.  Here I feel I must pay tribute to the work of Rotary International’s End Polio Now campaign.  I’d strongly recommend their web site if you have not already visited it. In the UK in the present century nobody has contracted polio to the best of my knowledge.

However what I was unaware of until recently was the concept of post-polio syndrome.  And I was

Dr Jonas Salk
Dr Jonas Salk

reminded of it when I re-read a recent interview with Julia Roberts from our blog where she talked about her then recent diagnosis with cancer but also about being a polio survivor.  You can read the interview here  In it she mentions post-polio syndrome and its impact on her life.

So I thought it would be useful to investigate further.  Because while the disease has disappeared in all but a few countries, its effects are still very much with us.

In fact it has been suggested that there may be around half a million people in the USA alone who suffer from post-polio syndrome.  So what actually is it?

Around 75% of people who have had polio will go on to suffer from post-polio syndrome (PPS). PPS seems to occur between 10-30 years after the initial polio attack.  The symptoms include:-

a) Fatigue – both physical and mental.

b)Muscle and joint pain.

c)  Atrophy (weakness) of the muscles.  This in turn can lead to difficulties in movement especially walking.

d)Sleep apnea.

e) Sensitivity to cold.

While this illness is not fatal it can obviously affect a person’s ability to lead a full life.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite people who have PPS to share their story with our readers.  This we hope will raise awareness of the condition.  Please feel free to use the comments box below to share your PPS journey.

It would be great if you would consider the following questions as part of your contribution:-

a) How old were you when you first contracted polio?  How long ago was this?

b)When did you start to suffer from PPS?

c)  What were you primary symptoms?  How were they treated?

d)Overall what effect did PPS have on your lifestyle?

Please not that this is only a guide.  Feel free to contribute anything you think may be of interest.

Many thanks in advance.

Sleep Apnea – might you have sleep apnea? What are your treatment options?

Sleep Apnea is a common but seemingly ignored condition in the western world.  Lagging it seemsstar wars not far behind Diabetes Type 2 as a medical condition and often with a similar profile of sufferers.  In fact between 3-7% of middle aged men and around 2.5% of women of that age have sleep apnea.

So what actually is sleep apnea?

Simply put it is abnormal breathing during sleep.  With obstructive sleep apnea (the most common kind) there is physical obstacle impeding breathing during sleep.  In many cases this is due to obesity.  The net result is, of course, a bad night’s sleep and the person with sleep apnea is unable to get the rest she or he needs.

The symptoms can include

a)      Snoring.

b)      Fatigue due to poor sleep.  For more information on fatigue please have a look at our previous blog

c)       Poor concentration during the day due to tiredness and possible cognitive dysfunction.

d)      Altered emotional states are common, in particular, moodiness.

e)      From long term sleep apnea depression seems to be a likely outcome.

If any of these apply to you it is important that you discuss these symptoms with a healthcare professional.

A problem is that the person with undiagnosed sleep apnea does not realise that they have sleep apnea because they are asleep when the apneas take place.

But the good news is that there are treatments.  These include:-

  • Medications which encourage improved respiration such as acetazolamide.
  • For people with mild to moderate sleep apnea dentists can produce a mouthpiece which opens the bite slightly thus increasing the airflow.  This is called a mandibular advancement splint.
  • For more severe sleep apnea a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is used.  This pumps air into the patient’s nose and mouth increasing air to the lungs and promoting easier sleep.
  • In some rare cases surgery is used when other strategies to cure sleep apnea have failed.

As part of this blog we would be very interested to hear your views and experiences of sleep apnea.  In particular it would be great if you could consider the following questions:-

1)      Have you ever been diagnosed with sleep apnea?

2)      What were the symptoms of your sleep apnea?

3)      What tests were you given to make the diagnosis?

4)      What treatments for sleep apnea were you given?  How successful were these treatments?

If you could use the comments box below to contribute any of your thoughts that would be great.

You might be interested to know that in the UK the condition is spelt sleep apnoea?  Divided by language as always.