Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder in which your breathing pauses due to narrowed or blocked airways during sleep. Generally, when we sleep, all muscles of our body get relaxed. But the throat muscles remain open to let air pass in. In the case of people with narrow throats when the muscles in their upper throat relax during sleep, the tissues close in and block the airway. This causes apnea.
Globally, Obstructive sleep apnea is on the rise and there is a steady increase in the number of people in India as well who are suffering from this sleep disorder. A study conducted in 2015 by a consumer products firm had revealed that nearly 93% of Indians are sleep-deprived. The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea has been observed to be higher in the western region as compared to the other parts of the country. According to a study, the prevalence of OSA by AHI criteria in rural India is 3.73%. In absolute numbers, this amounts to 36.34 million individuals suffering from OSA.
Men are twice as prone to obstructive sleep apnea as women. The gender-wise figures are between 4.4% and 19.7% for Indian males and in females, it was between 2.5% to 7.4%.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms
1. Loud snoring
2. Waking up suddenly due to choking or gasping
3. Restlessness during sleep
4. Headaches in the morning
5. Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
6. Feeling fatigued, drowsy, or sleepy throughout the day
7. Crankiness, impatient, irritated
8. Night sweats
Dr. Sonam Solanki, Consultant Chest Physician emphasizes, “The challenge with OSA is that patients cannot identify the symptoms themselves. Snoring, daytime sleepiness and easily being fatigued are such vague symptoms then unless we get sleep study test done or someone witnesses apnea when the patient is sleeping, this is missed.”
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Causes
1. Smoking, alcohol
2. Drug abuse
3. A narrow throat
5. Deviated septum
6. A medical condition that congests the upper airway
Other Risk factors include
Obesity, Hypertension, Diabetes, Asthma, Have smaller airways in your nose, throat, or mouth
How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?
The doctor may do a physical examination of your mouth, neck, and throat. They may do a sleep study wherein they will make you wear devices to monitor your breathing pattern, airflow, blood oxygen levels, eye movement, heart rhythm, the electrical activity of your brain. This study will help to figure out breathing problems.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
1. Lifestyle modification –
a. Avoid taking alcohol and sleeping pills.
b. Avoid sleeping on your back, sleep on sides
c. Lose some weight
2. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device - This device contains a mask that you wear over your nose and mouth. An air blower forces constant air through your nose that keeps your airway open.
Dr.Sonam Solanki, Consultant Chest Physician at Wockhardt hospital, Masina Hospital, and Bhatia Hospital adds, “Once diagnosed, it is important to understand that CPAP is a long-term therapy. Like anything else, patients and their doctors have to troubleshoot certain issues like mask fit, sleeping position, dryness, etc. In reality, patients give up on wearing the machine too soon rather than sticking with it and finding solutions that work for both.”
3. Dental device - A Mandibular Advancements Device (MAD) will keep your tongue from blocking your throat or bringing your lower jaw forward. This way the airway will remain open. It is an effective solution for snoring and sleep apnea.
4. Surgeries – It is often the last resort if other treatments do not work well. But they may have long-term side effects. Surgeries are used to
a. Remove the tonsils and adenoids.
b. Remove extra tissue at the back of the throat
c. Correct problems with the structure of the face.
d. Implant a pacemaker-like device that stimulates the muscles of the throat to stay open during sleep.
If left untreated, sleep apnea may cause anxiety and depression, loss of interest, poor performance at the workplace. Daytime drowsiness may increase the risk of accidents. Untreated OSA may result in various heart disorders like heart attack, stroke, heart failure, hypertension, etc.
Today we lost another gem from the music industry, our very own King of disco, Bappi Lahiri. #Medicircle expresses heartfelt condolence on the demise of Bappi Lahiri. His outstanding contributions will always be remembered and honored.
Rest in peace Bappi Da!