By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: Lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on one’s overall health and wellbeing. A common sleep-disturbing disorder is sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts regular breathing patterns during sleep, leading to fragmented and insufficient rest due to a deprivation of oxygen in the brain and body. Consequently, it causes multiple awakenings throughout the night. Kuwait Times interviewed Pulmonologist Dr Yousef Al-Ramzi to understand the implications of this disorder and the best suggested solutions for breathing troubles during sleep.
Dr Ramzi explained to Kuwait Times that sleep apnea is characterized by repeated pauses in breathing and intermittent gasping or loud snoring during sleep. “One of the main signs is snoring, particularly loud snoring or pauses in breathing that may be noticed by others around the person who suffers from this condition,” he said. Such disruptions are often caused by the relaxation of throat muscles, resulting in the narrowing or complete closure of the airway.
According to Dr Ramzi, one of the most concerning aspects of sleep apnea is its impact on overall health. The insufficient oxygen intake and disrupted sleep patterns associated with this disorder can lead to multiple complications, including cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. These conditions are commonly linked to untreated sleep apnea. The repeated strain on the cardiovascular system during episodes of blocked airways can contribute to the development or worsening of these conditions.
“Sleep apnea is indeed prevalent in individuals who are overweight or obese. However, it can also occur in individuals who are not overweight, although it is less common. While obstructive sleep apnea is more common in adults, it can also affect children, especially those who are severely obese,” he explained. Sleep apnea affects not only older individuals or those who are overweight. While age and obesity can contribute to the likelihood of developing sleep apnea, this condition can affect anyone.
This disorder can negatively affect one’s daytime performance as well. “The patient struggles with difficulty concentrating during the day and may also experience excessive daytime sleepiness,” Dr Ramzi said. He then spoke about possible treatments: “Treatment involves the use of positive airway pressure devices that open the airway when it becomes blocked during sleep. In moderate to severe cases, there are specific devices that work to open the blocked airway during sleep, with the most important one being the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. It is considered the most successful method in treating this condition.”