Created: May 25, 2023 07:52 AM

Tinashe Johnson (Photograph supplied)

The majority of Bermudians likely suffer from problems breathing during sleep, it was revealed this week.

Tinashe Johnson, a dentist who specialises in sleep-related breathing problems, said that 70 per cent of Bermudian adults suffered from breathing problems ranging from snoring to obstructive sleep apnoea.

She added that, while these problems may seem benign, they can lead to wider health problems down the line.

Dr Johnson said: “Just based on what I see, I’d say it’s 70 per cent in adults. In children, because of the environmental issues — and some grow out of it, but some don’t — it’s about 50 per cent.”

She added: “As my colleagues can attest, it is under-diagnosed in Bermuda.”

Dr Johnson was speaking during a meeting with the Hamilton Rotary Club on Tuesday.

She moved to the island with her Bermudian husband in 2015 and runs the Dental Lodge in Paget.

Dr Johnson said that sleep-disordered breathing included a wide variety of problems that tended to blend together.

The most common are snoring, open airway restriction and obstructed sleep apnoea, followed by central sleep apnoea, sleep-related hypoventilation and sleep-related hypoxaemia disorder.

Dr Johnson said that snoring, or vibrations cause by the relaxation and folding of throat tissue, affect about half of the world’s men, as well as 40 per cent of women and 20 per cent of children.

She added that, while it is often ignored, snoring could point to signs of greater breathing problems.

Dr Johnson explained: “It’s quite common for people to ignore this because they find it either cute or funny, but unfortunately it’s also associated with obstructed sleep apnoea.”

Obstructed sleep apnoea is caused by relaxed throat muscles collapsing on themselves and can often lead to moments of breathlessness that can last from a few seconds to a minute before waking up.

Dr Johnson said that the disease affected about one billion people in the world and was often caused by weight problems.

She said that the disorder could cause symptoms such as constant headaches in the morning, high blood pressure, forgetfulness and struggling to stay awake throughout the day.

Dr Johnson added that, if left untreated, it could lead to uncontrollable high blood pressure, heart and weight problems, including strokes, cognitive diseases such as dementia, a weak immune system, and depression and anxiety.

Dr Johnson said that these problems could be treated by losing weight, changing one’s sleep position and avoiding alcohol before bed.

Aggressive forms of the disorders can be helped with appliances, such as a Cpap machine, or with surgery, such as liposuction or a tonsillectomy.

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