Rahul (name changed) wakes up feeling excessively tired almost every day even after a good night’s sleep and is always irritable and cranky. He finds it difficult to concentrate during the day and is forgetful. While apparently, this may appear to many as mere signs of stress and tension in everyday life, it may also indicate a disturbed sleep pattern over a prolonged period of time. One of the common and widely undetected causes of disturbed sleep is Apnea, a medical condition where people stop breathing during sleep for at least 10 to 30 seconds.
Types of sleep apnea
The most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) where the person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep due to the throat muscle relaxing and blocking the airway. In most cases, the person having OSA remains unaware as the breath stoppages don’t cause a full arising. In OSA, there is as at least an occurrence of 5 episodes per hour of sleep during which respiration ceases temporarily. Despite being a common medical condition, it is believed that 85 percent of patients with clinically significant OSA has never been diagnosed. According to a research study on OSA, as many as 1 of 5 adults has at least mild symptoms of obstructive sleep Apnea, while 1 of 15 has moderate to severe symptoms. OSA is, however, very different from central sleep apnea which is caused by an imbalance in the brain’s respiratory control centers during sleep.
The symptoms of different types of sleep Apneas often overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include the following:
- Loud snoring often combined with gasping and choking during sleep
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
Reasons why sleep apnea goes undetected
OSA is largely an underdiagnosed and undetected medical condition. Since the primary symptoms of sleep apnea such as pauses in breathing, gasping or snoring occur during sleep it goes largely undetected.
A 2009 research study by AIIMS estimated that the prevalence of OSA in the Indian population is 13 percent of which only 4 percent visit a doctor to get the symptoms treated. Also, the prevalence of OSA in the Indian population is threefold higher to men as compared to women.
In India, there is a higher prevalence of OSA owing to low awareness, accessibility for diagnosis and treatment.
Detection only occurs when doctors refer to a sleep specialist or when sleep study is conducted.
When to see a doctor?
It is important to bear in mind that not everyone who has sleep apnea has a snoring problem. However, loud snoring can indicate potential sleep apnea.
The options to diagnose sleep apneas include nocturnal polysomnography (also known as sleep study). However, Dozee simplifies it for you and helps you screen for sleep apnea by studying your sleep patterns from the comfort of your home. To know more, about how Dozee helps in monitoring health while you sleep, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Dozee is not a medical device. It is not designed or intended for use in diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disorder or illness.
Patient names have been changed to protect the identity. Dozee editorial team with inputs from physicians.