Sleep apnoea syndrome
Probably everyone of us has heard of snoring. Many of us snore sometimes and this is nor anything unusual, it is enough for us to have a worse day and we sleep on our backs or we have a cold and we have a blocked nose. But certainly, not many people have heard of Sleep-Disordered Breathing. And this is no wonder, because this is an unconscious type of disordered breathing which we come across only and exclusively during sleep. This is a disorder which was identified fairly recently, it is very serious and, once it gets to its advance stadium, it is hard to treat. Usually, we are made aware of it by members of our family or doctors on the basis of diagnostic tests and an interview.
What is Sleep-Disordered Breathing? It is often mistaken for ordinary snoring, but kit constitutes a complex medical problem whose basis is repeated apnoea or shallow breathing during sleep. It is estimated that approx. 4% of middle-aged men and 2% middle-aged women suffer from it. This is 6 times more than in the case of diabetes which is, after all, considered to be a civilization disease! In Poland, it is estimated that there are from 200 to 400,000 persons suffering from this disease.
What damages may be caused by Sleep-Disordered Breathing in our organism? Sleep-Disordered Breathing, by leading to disturbance of exchange of the air in lungs, has a thoroughly negative effect on the condition of internal organs of a person which are relevant for the health and life. During apnoea, oxygen deficiency occurs in all organs, including the most important ones, i.e.: the brain, heart, kidneys, liver. Such oxygen deficiency damages those organ, and with time it causes development of chronic diseases or worsening of the condition of the existing diseases. Sleep-Disordered Breathing is connected with, among others, ischaemic heart disease and heart failure, chronic blood circulation deficiency, cardiac rhythm abnormalities, stroke, depression, endocrinological, daytime somnolence, powered libido and they are the most common cause of drug-resistant blood hypertension. Failure to commence treatment of Sleep-Disordered Breathing at at early stage of the disease may lead, in a long-term perspective, to sudden and premature death as a result of heart failure, stroke or cardiac rhythm abnormalities and accidents caused by somnolence and falling asleep in the process of performance of daily tasks.
May I be suffering from Sleep-Disordered Breathing? Persons who are most prone to this disease are middle-aged, overweight men who snore at night. This does not, however, exclude a possibility that another person, not meeting those conditions, may suffer from this disease. Women, less exposed to a risk of this disease, are less often diagnosed in the direction of Sleep-Disordered Breathing and the majority of patients learns about the disease when its causes are already irreversible. A definite majority of persons suffering from this disease snore loudly at night, and the partner may often hear uneven, interrupted breathing of the snoring person. Moreover, such problems are accompanied by continuous sense of fatigue, weakness, problems with concentration, headaches, daytime drowsiness, a tendency of falling asleep in front of TV, in the car, after a meal, sometimes even during a conversation.
Treatment of Sleep-Disordered Breathing. Tests may be carried out in hospital or at home. For the duration of tests in hospital, the patient must stay in hospital for 24 hours, where he sleeps in a special room with a camera, and lots of electrodes are attached to his body examining the functions of his organism - the activity of the brain, heart, muscle tension, eye bulbs movements, body position, saturation of blood with oxygen and many others. Teste are very detailed, but unfortunately they are connected with many drawbacks - several months of waiting for reimbursed tests, high-cost commercial tests (approx. PLN 1500 - 2000), they are often not reliable, because there are only a few people who are capable of sleeping "normally” in a laboratory room, with many sensors attached to his body. In the USA and many European countries, the so-called small polysomnography is treated as equal to diagnosis. A device which is used in these tests also thoroughly evaluates the functioning of the organism during sleep, and it has many advantages – it is much cheaper, the patient takes it home with him for the night in order to sleep in standard conditions, a smaller number of electrodes used to collect the data reduced the discomfort when falling asleep. The treatment of diagnosed disorders is usually carried by clinics specializing in treatment of sleeping disorders, pulmonology clinics and laryngology clinics.
Therefore, regular and loud snoring should also attract our attention and encourage us to visit a sleep disorder treatment clinic.