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SNORING OR SLEEP APNEA?

About 45% of Indian population suffer from snoring during sleep. Out of these, 50% are “simple snorers” the rest may be suffering from a serious sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Though incorrect, the two conditions are often used interchangeably and may be wrongly treated as a result. While OSA will always leads to loud and frequent snoring, snoring does not always indicate OSA.

Let us understand the difference between sleep apnea and simple snoring. This is the first step to effective treatment of both conditions.  For all the people across the country who are getting nagged by frustrated bed partners, it’s important to know what their snoring means and what they can do to treat it.

Do your research

Sleep-Apnea1The first step to treatment is knowing the difference between simple snoring and sleep apnea. Snoring is the result of relaxed/lax tissues in the throat which partially block the airway and vibrate, creating a sound. How soft or loud the sound is also depends on an individual’s anatomy and other lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, sedative pills, body weight etc.

 OSA is a chronic condition characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. When people with OSA fall asleep, they can stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute or more.  Both conditions can be caused or aggravated by age, the shape of neck and head,obesity, enlarged uvula  and palate, large tongue and tonsils.

ACT FAST

If you or your partner is a frequent loud snorer, stops breathing, gasps or chokes during sleep, experiences excessive restlessness at night or feels sleepy during the day, has symptoms of mood changes like depression , anxiety or irritability ,frequent urination at night, gastric reflux ,sexual dysfunction in middle aged males, waking up with dry mouth, high blood pressure etc. Please do bring it up with your doctor to see whether a SLEEP STUDY is necessary.  Taking this first step to get tested prior to beginning any treatment prevents inaccurate self-diagnosis, inadequate treatment, and/or premature dismissal of the problem. Your  physician will be able to refer you to sleep apnea specialist.

TREATMENT FOR SLEEP APNEA/SNORING

Snoring treatments range from lifestyle alterations, such as weight loss,regular exercise, a decrease in alcohol consumption and changing sleeping positions, to oral devices . Treatment of OSA, however, often involves CPAP , a blower connected by a tube to a mask that fits over the mouth or nose, blowing air with continuous pressure so that pressure in the airway is maintained. This constant pressure keeps the airway from collapsing allowing normal breathing.

While CPAP is very effective, some sleep apnea patients experience difficulty using a CPAP machine, as it can be uncomfortable, embarrassing or just inconvenient.Surgery is indicated for these patients. Surgical procedures involve stabilising different structures around the airway to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. There are three major areas that can contribute to these conditions: the nose, palate, and tongue regions. In an individual patient, often more than one of these areas are responsible. Proper preoperative evaluation is  the key to plan and tailor surgical treatment according to  the individual’s pattern of airway blockage rather than performing the same procedure on all patients.

In addition, there are certain things to keep in mind . most importantly some people (including some surgeons) have looked at sleep surgery as being one procedure for everyone, primarily soft palate surgery (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP). But  may require other procedures on tongue base , lateral pharyngeal folds for proper results.

Surgical results are unpredictable when the same procedure is performed in everyone. Although it is impossible to make guarantees in medicine, many studies show that it is possible to improve surgical outcomes through careful evaluation of patients and selecting procedures that are best for an individual patient. The importance of patient evaluation is widely recognized by surgeons

Don’t dismiss snoring as “natural”

Often, snoring is dismissed as a natural part of aging. While it’s true that snoring can increase over time with age and weight gain, it should not be accepted as a part of  life. It can and  should be treated – for the sake of the snorer and their partner both.

Don’t underestimate the health risks

More than just a noisy nuisance, snoring and sleep apnea can have serious health consequences. OSA sufferers usually move out of deep sleep into light sleep when their breathing pauses, and this lowers the sleep quality. OSA  also triggers the release of stress hormones and therefore can make you feel tired and sleepy during the day. In addition, there are several potential health hazards of inadequate sleep, such as weight gain, memory loss, skin aging and more.

There is also definite evidence that OSA leads to a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation,congestive cardiac failure, cardiac arrhythmias, diabetes, certain cancers and even sudden death. Treating OSA can decrease these risks.

Don’t forget that while you’re sleeping, others are not.

While the snorer may not feel that the condition is disrupting his or her sleep, the partner being kept up all night by the noise may feel differently. Relationships can severely suffer if partners are irritated about being kept awake or having to sleep in separate rooms. According to a recent study, over 41 percent of women say they need a good night’s sleep instead having it interrupted by a snoring partner. The lack of sleep or need for nighttimes separation can foster resentment and disturb relationships.

There are additional health risks from lack of consistent high-quality sleep, including being more prone to accidents, difficulty focusing, impaired attention, and alertness.  This lack of sleep can promote weight gain while also accelerating the aging of the skin and  brain.

COMPACT LESSON TO BE LEARNT

Your health depends on getting enough sleep. If you or your partner experience any symptoms of snoring or sleep apnoea, consult a SPECIALIST. There are definite treatments available, and you can get your restful nights back.

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