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Can snoring be a breathing disorder?

We often make fun of someone who snores a lot. Few months ago, the legendary Indian singer Bappi Lahiri died due to Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), an under-diagnosed yet highly prevalent disease in majorly old and obese people. Little do we know that it can be a severe breathing disorder. Sleep apnoea occurs when abnormal breathing patterns constantly disrupt a person's sleep; it starts and stops repeatedly. This disorder, if left untreated, might elevate the risk of developing vascular illnesses.

There are three types of sleep apnoea:

1. Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA): It is the most prevalent kind of sleep apnoea in which the soft tissues in the back of the throat, such as the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, and tongue, which usually relax as we sleep, collapse. Thus, preventing proper breathing. Consequently, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to breathe when enough oxygen does not reach the lungs. As a result of this restricted condition, the person wakes up and gasps for air while sleeping.

2. Central sleep apnoea (CSA): It is a neurological disorder that is less common than OSA. It is more common in people with underlying ailments, such as heart, renal, lung, or neuromuscular problems, who are more likely to experience it. In this condition, a person stops breathing because the central nervous system does not consistently provide a signal to breathe.

3. The most recently identified type is complex sleep apnoea, a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnoea. Even after treatment with a CPAP machine, if the breathing condition persists it is categorized as complicated sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is more prevalent in the elderly. However, men are two to three times more likely than women to develop the disease, although the gender gap narrows after menopause. Obesity is responsible for 40% to 60% of OSA cases, and alcohol consumption may exacerbate sleep apnoea.

1. Traditional:

Loose excessive weight

Avoid sleeping pills

Nasal sprays are used by people with nasal congestion or sinus problems to improve airflow during overnight breathing.

2. Mechanical:

Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy allows patients to sleep with a stream of compressed air supporting their airways. The patient sleeps with a mask on, and the device then uses a linked tube to blow pressured air from the room into the patient's upper airway through the mask.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a type of PAP therapy in which a machine employs a CPAP mask to give a constant level of airway pressure set by the doctor. People with OSA benefit from it because the continual pressure keeps their airways open all night. Higher pressure is essential for a patient with severe OSA to avoid any obstruction during sleep.

BiPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) therapy works similarly to CPAP, with one major exception. This machine has two pressure settings: an inhalation pressure (IPAP) and a lower exhalation pressure (EPAP) to match the patient's breathing rhythm. These pressures adjust automatically, allowing the user to maintain a consistent breathing pattern.


Editor: Dr. Bharti Singal and Dr. Jyoti Chhibber-Goel

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