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Isn’t it common to hear at least one member of the family or another snore when he or she sleeps? In fact, snoring is such a usual involuntary activity that we often stop paying attention as to why it really happens or even what it may lead to. Snoring is a key symptom of sleep apnea – a condition that turned fatal for 69-year-old singer-composer Bappi Lahiri. But not every snore is a sign of the condition.
“A majority of the people ignore snoring. But It’s important to realize that there are mainly two types of snoring,” says Dr Kalpana Nagpal, a senior consultant and robotic surgeon.
* Primary snoring: Primary snoring consists of loud upper airway breathing sounds during sleep without episodes of apnea (cessation of breath)
* Snoring with sleep apnea: Snoring with sleep apnea is the loud sounds followed by episodes of stoppage of breathing. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnea and tends to get worse with age.
According to the expert, while multiple studies have shown that men are twice as prone to snoring in comparison to women, that has been changing due to obesity and the increase of lifestyle-related disorders like diabetes, hypertension among others.
Like most diseases and disorders, early detection of sleep apnea can help you mitigate the risk of contracting other health issues. In fact, studies have shown that sleep apnea in kids can affect heart health.
“Sleep apnea in adults, if diagnosed early, can prevent cardiac disease, brain strokes, reduce memory disturbances, irritability and anger among other things. It is also known to be one of the causes of death in sleep and road traffic accidents,” explains Dr Nagpal.
People with primary snoring are advised weight management through changes in eating habits, exercise, dental devices and in some cases, laser-based surgery.
In patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the gold standard of non-surgical treatment remains using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine during sleep.
With advancement in technology, the healthcare industry has seen the emergence of sleep surgeries in the last five years, says Dr Nagpal.
Talking about how patient selection for surgeries work, she explains, “It would be based on their body mass index (BMI) levels and pre-operative sleep study also called pre-operative polysomnographic (PSG) results. Some of the parameters that can be considered for surgery include basal metabolic rate of less than 40 and patients categorised under mild or moderate or early severe sleep apnea.”
What does it involve? “Surgical correction of obstructive sleep apnea can be carried out by modification of the tongue base and creating a new channel of airway and surgery to remove tissue and/or remodel tissue in the throat. In select patients, the 30-minute Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for obstructive sleep apnea can provide better results than earlier alternatives,” adds Dr Nagpal, who has performed TORS in around 65 patients over the last year.