Growing sleep problems

Sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart problems, if left untreated

A LOT like the physical changes that occur when a child enters adolescence, so do when they become an adult.

One of those changes is the way snoring becomes a thing and gets progressively worse, like getting louder and louder, as the years build up into adulthood.

A majority of men will develop snoring, and some women will too, and these are usually noticed first by family members and then by partners, romantic or otherwise.

For many – except the snorer – it’s an annoyance, especially at night when they’re trying to sleep in the same room as someone who’s unconsciously mimicking the sounds of a jet engine.

Therein lies the problem; it’s considered an annoyance, nothing more, nothing less.

In fact, snoring is a telltale sign that something is wrong or worse with the snorer, especially in their throat.

They may suffer from sleep apnea.

silent killer

According to Dr. Jonathan Jun, a specialist in pulmonary and sleep medicine, sleep apnea occurs when the muscles of the upper airways relax during sleep and pinch the airways, preventing the sufferer from getting enough air. .

At this point, breathing is “paused” for ten seconds or more, before their reflexes kick in and they start breathing again, repeating the cycle of snoring and “choking” throughout the night.

This condition is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

On paper, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but think about it.

When breathing stops, the brain is cut off from oxygen, causing a slow – but sure – overall failure of the system, such as excessive pressure on the heart and lungs, while disrupting sleep and rest.

Studies have shown that OSA can lead to early onset hypertension and diabetes, which progress to heart disease and stroke.

Those who almost unanimously experience the “snoring, choking, quiet, flushing and repeating” symptoms also say they feel tired after waking up from seven or more hours of sleep, and they don’t know why.

This is because they have OSA, and the fact that makes it a slow killer is that those who suffer from it are simply not aware that they have it.

Risks and prevention

It should be noted that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores at night.

Besides snoring and choking, the clearest indicator that something is wrong is the next morning when the person is experiencing unexplained fatigue and if they have episodes of microsleep throughout the day.

Microsleep is the involuntary moment when someone “falls asleep” for no apparent reason.

These episodes can last up to 15 seconds and can occur at any time. For example, while driving, which obviously presents a risk for the driver and those around him.

Keep in mind that according to the Royal Malaysian Police, a total of 1,305 deaths between 2011 and 2021 have been attributed to drivers falling asleep on the road.

In order to properly diagnose OSA, a sleep study is usually done and the assessment usually looks at several factors, such as obesity (heavier people are most at risk), neck circumference, bone structure face, etc.

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution when it comes to treatment. Most commonly, a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is deployed, where OSA sufferers must wear a mask before going to bed.

According to Dr. Iqbal Farim, Consultant Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeon, the best treatment plan will depend on each patient.