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Home / Health & Science

Surgery that cures snoring

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy KILLIAD SINIDE | Thu,Jan 28 2021 09:38:14 EAT
By KILLIAD SINIDE | Thu,Jan 28 2021 09:38:14 EAT

 It is very important for all snorers to undergo a test called polysomnography, which is the overnight monitoring of sleep patterns. [Photo: Shutterstock]

One of the last places you want to find yourself after a long day at work is the same room with a snorer. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, women sleeping with snoring partners are three times more likely to have insomnia symptoms than those whose partners do not snore.

But did you know that snoring is actually a health condition?

Snoring is associated to a serious breathing disorder called sleep apnea that is caused by blocked upper airways, which restrict the flow of oxygen into the body. Loud snoring broken up by pauses in breathing can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

People with sleep apnea experience brief interruptions in breathing that may happen up to 20 to 30 times every hour while they sleep. This causes oxygen levels in the blood to fall, forcing the brain to wake you up so you can take a breath. “It’s as if someone is shaking you awake every few minutes throughout your sleep,” says Johns Hopkins sleep expert Alan Schwartz, MD.

Apart from interfering with the quantity and quality of sleep, sleep apnea affects heart activity and can cause cardiac dysfunction, brain strokes, cancers and muscular dystrophy if not diagnosed and treated early in adults.

How is it diagnosed?

During sleep, the tone of muscles is usually low, but people with sleep apnea experience an over-relaxation of the muscles of airway, which can affect the memory of patients, cause sexual dysfunction and increase daytime fatigue. “A sleep apneic may suffer road traffic accidents due to daytime sleepiness,” says Kalpana Nagpal, a robotic surgeon and ENT specialist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

It is very important for all snorers to undergo a test called polysomnography, which is the overnight monitoring of sleep patterns.

“Cardiologists and physicians throughout the world should emphasise sleep apnea in their clinics. It should be adopted at the preventive medicine level. Sleep apnea should be screened even in drivers driving on the roads,” says Dr Kalpana.

A new treatment option

For years, portable devices that keep the airway open during sleep have been recommended treatments for patients with OSA.

But patients rarely use these devices as required. “It should be at least six hours every night, but most people use them for only two or three hours,” says the ENT specialist. “Other sleep surgeries are also not as effective as the most recent robotic treatment for sleep apnea.”

Robotic surgery is a revolution in sleep medicine, because it is a minimally-invasive approach to treating sleep apnea. The technology gives surgeons unprecedented dexterity, precision and vision of the surgical field so they can perform the surgery through a patient’s mouth.

Traditional sleep surgeries required large incisions in the neck and jaw, which meant long recovery times for patients. This technique is less painful and allows quick recovery after surgery. “We put the robotic arms through the throat without any external scar or incision,” explains Kalpana, who performs more than 100 robotic ENT surgeries every year.

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