By Dr Benjamin Loh
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder where the person stops breathing for a short period during sleep resulting in fragmented sleep.
Cessation of breathing happens when there is a closing or narrowing of the air passage resulting in reduced oxygen delivery into the body system.
This can happen many times during the night. The low oxygen level signals the brain causing one to wake up transiently to restart normal breathing.
Patients with OSA often have an unrefreshed sleep and might experience daytime sleepiness leading to difficulty in concentrating during the day.
It often remains underdiagnosed and if left untreated for a long period, OSA can lead to severe complications later in life.
How common is sleep apnoea in Singapore?
A local study showed that up to 1 in 3 Singaporeans may have moderate-to-severe OSA. However, many are often undiagnosed.
Most symptoms occur at night and only observed by the sleeping partner, hence leading to poor self-awareness.
Who should be concerned?
Increasing age, males and patients with higher weight gain are at a higher risk of OSA. Patients with airway obstruction like enlarges tonsils and adenoids might also contribute to OSA.
Do you have OSA?
You might OSA if you have these
- Choking episodes during sleep
- Witnessed episodes of breath stopped
- Restless sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Impaired concentration
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Morning headache
How to diagnose OSA
Based on the convenience and comfort of the patient, experts can do the evaluation of OSA through sleep study. Consider to having your sleep study perform at the comfort of your own home or in hospital.
What can you do?
Your can also treat your OSA through different options that reduce sleep disturbances and its effects. Effective treatment will ensure that your airway remains open during sleep.
Treatments should be suitable for prolonged use and tailored to your needs.
- Weight loss through dietary changes and exercising
- Avoid alcohol
- Sleep hygiene
- Sleeping sideways
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
- Mandibular devices
- Surgical treatment
Why should you care?
You might be at risk of many health issues if you have OSA.
- Daily living activities – daytime sleepiness and a lack of concentration, which may affect daily life activities and increase the risk of errors at work.
- Accidents – Road traffic accidents are more common in patients with OSA than without.
- Cardiovascular morbidity – Studies have shown that moderate or severe untreated OSA can lead to heart problems such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and heart attack.
- Diabetes – Risks of diabetes and diabetes-related complications are higher and OSA may increase the risk of obesity which also contributes to diabetes.
- Sexual Health –Studies have shown that OSA is linked to sexual dysfunction in both men and women
- Increase in mortality