Instead of ignoring,
take a risk test.

Are you snoring yourself to death?

Dr. N Nalini
Senior Consultant Pulmonologist, Continental Institute of Pulmonary & Sleep Disorders Hyderabad

Do I sleep well? How often do you ask yourself this question? If not, you better start now. We all know that diet, exercise and sleep are the three integral components to maintain good health. World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health not merely as absence of disease but a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. Yet, today while there is a lot of emphasis on proper diet and exercise, sleep is often neglected. And that neglect goes on to prove quite costly many times, with people having to pay for it with their very lives.

We think a person who snores aloud while sleeping is enjoying a good, sound sleep. But snoring is actually a common symptom of OSA. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is one of the dangerous sleep disorders that plague our generation. It is a medical condition where a person stops breathing for short intervals, during sleep. This results in a decline in oxygen supply in blood and subsequently to the brain. When a person snores, it indicates the narrowing down of the air tube due to the deposition of fat, due to which the whistling sound is made. This narrowing may cause the airflow to stop to such an extend that could finally result in sudden cardiac arrests. So if you or anyone you know is snoring too loudly and incessantly, it is time to sit up and take notice. Other symptoms of OSA that you can look for include low concentration, drowsiness at work, snoring, frequent visits to the bathroom, irritability etc.

Sleep apnea leads to lack of concentration and drive, as was reported by an IT professional with an issue of sudden weight gain. He was struggling to meet targets and was missing promotions at work.The condition adversely affected his cognitive skills, memory skills and caused forgetfulness, irritability and lack of creativity. He was advised CPAP machine by Dr. N. Nalini (Senior Consultant Pulmonologist , CIPSD- Hyderabad), which not only restored his normal sleep pattern but also improved his ability to think, concentrate and make decisions. Within a short time of starting his CPAP treatment, the patient expressed that things were already starting to look better at work.

Another obese patient was heavily injured in a road accident and was hospitalized for a month. On investigating, it emerged that he dozed off for a few seconds while driving, ending up in the accident. The doctors then identified that he was suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. This state of micro-sleep is common in such patients. It usually occurs while performing monotonous tasks such as driving. In fact, after alcohol, sleep apnea has been identified as the second largest cause of road accidents in our country. But this fact is not common knowledge and continues to be the silent killer on roads. Next time you feel drowsy while driving, get yourself examined for OSA by a sleep doctor.

Thankfully, Sleep apnea is a condition, which can be treated completely. The CPAP machine is a Gold Standard Treatment for OSA. It is a pressure device, which can be regulated to open up the airways during sleep and is therefore useful in inducing undisturbed and good quality sleep. Not only does a CPAP machine bring great relief from the first day of usage, it also helps control diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and averts the risk of stoke dramatically. Many high-risk patients resist the use of CPAP owing to its high cost. But what needs to be borne in mind is that using CPAP in the early stages of the disease is a long-term investment. It will help you avoid the cost of hospitalization later and even subsequent hospitalizations for all the related health conditions. With healthcare expenses soaring up to a whopping Rs. 10 lakhs for around a week's treatment, spending for a CPAP machine would indeed be a worthwhile investment.

Sleep is something you cannot afford to turn a blind eye to. If you are experiencing problems sleeping well, consult a sleep doctor immediately. Treat your sleep apnea before it's too late.