Have you ever slept a good eight hours and yet woken up feeling sluggish? Or much to your embarrassment have had people tell you that you’re a loud snorer? Don’t just dismiss it as a one of thing. You could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition in which airflow decreases or pauses for short intervals when you are asleep. “This primarily happens because the airway constricts when a person lies down and if the person is obese then constriction is even more,” says Dr Vijay Kumar Chennamchetty, consultant pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Yashoda Hospital.
“There are primarily two stages of sleep — non-rapid eye movement (NREM), the lighter plane of sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) the deeper plane of sleep. In REM the airway constricts further and if breathing halts for more than 10 seconds then it is classified as apnea. Before that when the breathing is shallow it is hypopnea. Using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) we measure the severity of OSA,” he explains.
Common risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart ailment and obesity. Symptoms could be daytime sleepiness, irritability due to lack of quality sleep, poor memory or a recurrent dream of someone strangling you and loss of libido.
The condition is diagnosed by PSG (Polysomnogram) aka Sleep Study. Treatment usually consists of weight reduction if the patient is obese. “Patients are also advised to avoid alcohol, smoking and sleeping pills. When it comes to nasal strips there is no scientific data to prove its efficacy. While there are surgical correction options chances of recurrence is high. A machine called the CPAP acts as a pneumatic splint and helps clear the airway. Sleeping on the side can help too,” says Dr Vijaykumar, adding, “It is important to treat OSA because it can be a precursor to coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertensions and strokes apart from affecting the quality of life.”
Dr Vijay Kumar(Consultant pulmonologist and Sleep Specialist, Yashoda Hospital)
(You can contact the doctor on 9701297721 & 9160408656)