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Palliser Primary Care Network

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Sleep Apnea

One of the most common sleep disorders, sleep apnea can be a potentially serious disorder characterized by repeatedly stopping and starting breathing again.

There are 3 main types of sleep apnea:

1)  Obstructive Sleep Apnea: the most common form, in which the airway becomes obstructed by the tongue or very wide neck

2)  Central Sleep Apnea: breathing is controlled by a signal from the brain which is being interrupted

3)  Complex Sleep Apnea: a combination of Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea

(Mayo Clinic – Reference 1)

Signs to look out for:

  • Loud snoring

  • Gasping for air during sleep

  • Dry mouth in the morning

  • Headaches

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Irritability

  • Your partner witnesses apneic spells

(Mayo Clinic – Reference 1)


Presently there is a very easy and accessible way to determine if you have sleep apnea.

Discuss your concerns with your doctor and/or PCN health care professional; a simple sleep study can be arranged locally. This entails taking a very small, portable machine home that gets strapped to your body and a probe attached to your finger. This is worn overnight and taken back to the sleep clinic for interpretation.

This may lead to a CPAP trial which is a machine that has a mask (either a nose mask or nose and mouth mask) attached to the machine to be worn at night. The mask forces air into your body that helps to keep your oxygen at appropriate levels and ensure that you have a restful sleep.

Alternative Treatments for Sleep Apnea:

  • Weight loss

  • Decrease use of sedatives and alcohol

  • Quit smoking

(HealthLink BC – Reference 2)

Untreated Sleep Apnea can cause:

  • High blood pressure

  • Abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure, Coronary artery disease or even stroke

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Chronic Headaches

(HealthLink BC – Reference 2)

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to significant consequences with our health and therefore treatment should be strongly considered.

Take the opportunity to discuss this with your Health Home team.

Article Submitted by Sherri Jans, RN at 13th Ave Clinic




2.   December 6, 2017