Click here for a printable referral form that needs to be filled out by your doctor. You will need to bring along the referral form when you come to your appointment.
Sleep apnea (also spelt sleep apnoea) is a common sleep disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, when normal breathing resumes, this can sometimes begin with a loud snort or choking sound.
Your breathing is affected most often when the muscles that control the upper airway relax too much during sleep. If they relax too much, the upper airway narrows and you may begin to snore. If the airway narrows even further it may become completely blocked and you temporarily stop breathing. This ‘obstructive’ apnea can last for ten seconds or more, it may happen frequently and even several hundred times a night.
There are two ways of spelling sleep apnea. The way of spelling it in the US is "sleep apnea". This is also the most common way of spelling it.
In other countries such as the UK, France, Germany "sleep apnoea" is used as well as "sleep apnea". Sleep apnoea is preferred by medical professionals. In Australia, both ways of spelling are used.Read more here.
There is a wide range of symptoms caused by sleep apnea. The most common are:
Yes, females present with different symptoms to those commonly associated with OSA as set out below:
Every time an apnea occurs, your body increases its effort to breathe and your vital organs struggle for oxygen. This alerts your brain to wake up and make you breathe again. This can lead to experiencing the kind of tiredness that affects your quality of life, work and relationships. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Health system costs – according to a Deloitte Access Economics report
The health system costs of sleep disorders comprise the cost of the sleep disorders themselves and the share of health costs from other conditions attributed to sleep disorders (i.e. Cardiovascular diseases, depression and injuries). The total health care cost of sleep disorders in 2010 was estimated to be $818 million. Sleep disorders cost the hospital system $96.2 million, of which 73.1% was due to sleep apnea.
In addition, people with sleep disorders access a range of medical services and use pharmaceuticals that they would not require in the absence of the sleep disorder, totalling $96.6 million in out of hospital medical costs in 2010.
The total health system cost for conditions attributed to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea in Australia was estimated to be $544 million in 2010.
Health system costs for conditions attributed to sleep disorders, 2010
Doctors are unable to diagnose sleep apnea during a routine visit, nor can any blood test help. The only way to test for this is with a Medicare rebated sleep apnea test, which can be done at home.
Some of the signs of having sleep apnea are a good indication, as follows:
If you have answered ‘Yes’ to two or more of these, then you are at a higher risk of having sleep apnea and should seek further medical advice.
A test for sleep apnea can be performed in your own home and is covered by Medicare. (Please note that a sleep assessment fee may apply in some clinics.)
Come into a clinic to see a Sleep Technician who will guide you as to how you wear the equipment overnight. Take home a small device (about the size of an iPhone) to record information about your sleep. It will measure factors like snoring, frequency of apneas, oxygen levels, sleep positions and more.
An independent Sleep Physician analyses the results and provides a treatment recommendation. A highly trained Sleep Therapist will meet with you and discuss your sleep apnea test report as well as any treatment recommendations made by the Sleep Physician.
See if you or a loved one could be among the 1 in 5 Australians suffering from sleep apnea - Take a Sleep Test at home and get treated today.Find out more