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It is the cessation of breathing via nose and mouth for 10 seconds at least which can recur many times during the 7 hours of sleep cycle associated with and followed by a snort when breathing resumes.

These interruptions of sleep result in tiredness and daytime sleeping which increases the chances of accidents during working hours, like accidents with operating machinery and traffic accidents.

Sleep apneic subjects, show snoring/gasping and sleepiness as symptoms; mouth breathing/excessive urination/poor hypertension control. Casual snoring is not obstructive sleep apnea and not as serious as sleep apnea, but most people with apnea do snore, however, snorers may not have sleep apnea. Snoring causes immense trouble to the bed partner and can cause serious marital friction. Headaches in the morning could be the only indication to sleep apnea due to lack of oxygen in brain cells and accumulation of carbon dioxide in the blood causes dilatation of brain blood vessels, hence, causing headaches.

There are investigative tools for diagnosing sleep apnea like (Epsworth Sleepiness Scale). But the most common diagnostic test is a proper sleep study called (Polysomnogram); followed by (Drug Induced Sleep Endoscopy – DISE), prior to surgical treatment of the condition upon proper diagnosis of the level of obstruction in the airways.

Exercise programs and dieting could help to reduce weight and that helps in reducing snoring and blockage significantly as well as procedures of bariatric surgery (weight-reducing surgery); but only after the failure of a continuous positive airway pressure device like CPAP/BIPAP machines.

Written By: Dr. Farhad Nouri
Consultant Otorhinolaryngologist (ENT)
Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons (UK)



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