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leep apnoea in general refers
to respiratory arrest that occurs
while sleeping. In obstructive sleep
apnoea (OSA), the respiratory arrest
is caused by so-called ‘obstructions’
or the narrowing of the upper airways and
larynx. During sleep, the soft tissue of the
neck and the tongue fall back and collapse
obstructing the airway. As the patients are
about to get into deeper phase of sleep, the
obstruction of the airway causes them to wake
up.The patients are not aware of these episodes
but it does affect the brain as the final phase of
sleep is not attained.
Not to be confused with primary snorers
who just snore without any symptoms or other
problems, the patients of OSA also experience
choking episodes. The extent of the sleep
Sleep Tight
KPJ Selangor Specialist
Hospital is set to help sufferers
of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea get
a good night’s rest.
Daily life is another aspect affected by OSA.
Patients will find it difficult to perform at work as
they cannot really concentrate and stay focused.
Those who suffer from OSA can also affect
people around them, if for instance, their job
involves the handling of heavy machinery which
might lead to accidents or other occupational
hazards. It can also leave emotional impact on
relationships, particularly on the spouses of
sufferes due to the disturbingly loud snoring
and sexual dysfunction.
The Diagnoses
The first step to managing this problem is to
see an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist.
The patient will go through several steps of
diagnoses to determine the severity and the
most suitable treatment for them. First is the
history-taking. The patient’s sleep pattern will
be analysed to find out if they always stay up
late. Smoking is also a contributing factor. It is
always best that the spouse goes along to the
consultation as they are the one who knows
what happens when the patient is asleep.
Daily life is another aspect
affected by OSA. Patients
will find it difficult to
perform at work as they
lose concentration and are
unable to stay focused.
apnoea is measured with theApnoea–Hypopnea
Index (AHI), which is obtained through poly-
somnography (sleep study). AHI is the average
number of breathing sensation or partial breath-
ing sensation within an hour of sleep. In OSA
patients, the AHI result is above five and it can
goes up to 30 in more severe cases.
The Symptoms
The symptoms for OSA differ between children
and adult. Patients usually snore loudly and
always wake up at night to pass urine, which
is referred to as hormonal events (secretion
of certain hormones). On waking up, they get
headaches and experience daytime lethargy,
poor concentration, daytime sleepiness, anxiety
and irritability.
OSA will become chronic if not treated. For
men, it can even lead to impotency. The body
functions will also be affected. For those with
pre-existing hypertension or heart disease for
instance, OSA will aggravate the problems and
makes the medication taken for these less