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Is your insomnia actually sleep apnea?

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are snoring, pauses in breathing, gasping or choking sounds, frequent headaches, high blood pressure, poor concentration/memory and waking up feeling groggy. (123RF)
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are snoring, pauses in breathing, gasping or choking sounds, frequent headaches, high blood pressure, poor concentration/memory and waking up feeling groggy. (123RF) - Sponsored content

Everyone has had a sleepless night now and then. With our hectic schedules and seemingly never enough hours in our day, many people find they are not sleeping as much as they should. But for some, the problem can be more serious than the odd sleepless night.

“People may not remember waking up numerous times in the night. All they know is that they’re always tired,” says Respiratory Therapist, Jaime Williams. “If they don’t have a partner who’s noticing, it can come as quite a shock when we tell them they’re not breathing properly at night.”

Williams, who joined Respiratory Therapy Specialists (RTS) in Newfoundland and Labrador over 20 years ago, says the problem can be Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This often serious and potentially life-threatening condition occurs when you repeatedly stop breathing when sleeping because of a collapse in your airway.

OSA can develop for a number of reasons, according to Williams. “Sometimes, the cause is unknown, or it may be due to a combination of factors,” which he adds can include weight gain/obesity, decreased muscle tone, the actual physical makeup of your airway and such things as alcohol and sedative use.

Respiratory Therapist, Scott Bartlett, and Customer Service Representative, Stacey Griffiths, at Respiratory Therapy Specialists’ new Spaniards Bay location. - Contributed
Respiratory Therapist, Scott Bartlett, and Customer Service Representative, Stacey Griffiths, at Respiratory Therapy Specialists’ new Spaniards Bay location. - Contributed

So, how do you know if you have OSA? Some of the symptoms, according to Williams, are: snoring, gasping or choking at night, excessive daytime sleepiness, drowsiness while driving, restless sleep and poor concentration/memory. Often people with OSA also experience high blood pressure he says, adding that if you experience more than one of these symptoms, you should discuss screening for OSA with your doctor, who can then refer you to RTS for an assessment by one of their respiratory therapists, says Williams.

“OSA can be diagnosed with a simple sleep study, which you can do in the comfort of your own home,” Williams adds. “After a short office visit, a qualified respiratory therapist will show you how to operate the portable sleep monitor that will let us see what’s happening when you sleep.”

The results will then be interpreted by an independent sleep specialist and sent to your referring doctor. The most common and successful treatment for OSA is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

“CPAP works by blowing pressurized and humidified air through a special mask you wear that keeps your airway open as you sleep,” Williams explains. As successful CPAP therapy relies on having the appropriate equipment, Williams says it is important the equipment is fitted to your individual and specific needs.

“We offer a wide range of CPAP machines and a wide variety of masks and accessories. And because patient comfort is our primary goal, we have chosen products with the latest technology. Our patients can rest assured they will be receiving the most comfortable and advanced treatment for their condition,” Williams assures.

RTS is not only the only home oxygen and sleep apnea services provider that services all of Newfoundland, including Labrador, but they have just opened their newest location in Spaniards Bay to better serve their patients.

“Scott Bartlett, our respiratory therapist who works at this location, has 10 years’ experience treating patients with OSA. Stacey Griffiths has been with RTS for a year as our Customer Service Representative, providing exceptional service to the patients that we help in the Conception Bay North area,” Williams says.

In celebration of RTS’ 25th year, Williams says they want to show their appreciation to their clients by offering 25 (business) days of discounts (15 per cent off all CPAP masks and CPAP accessories), starting April 25 through to May 30.

These 25 days will be topped off with an open house on May 31 where we will be offering 25 per cent off CPAP masks and CPAP accessories,” says Williams. They will also be offering snacks and refreshments throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We’re committed to helping people live more comfortably and safely in their own homes,” says Williams. “It’s what we’ve been doing for 25 years, and we can’t wait to see where we are in another 25 years.”

For more information about Respiratory Therapy Specialists, visit www.rtsatlantic.com or call (877) 420-0202. For the Spaniards Bay location at 49 Conception Bay Highway, call (709) 786-4911 or visit them between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Tuesday to Friday.

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