Sleep apnea, which continues to increase rapidly in our country as in the whole world, causes many diseases and negatively affects the quality of life. Especially in the presence of moderate and severe apnea, depression is a common symptom. Ear, Nose, Throat and Head and Neck Surgery Specialist Op.Dr.Bahadır Baykal gave information on the subject.
The death rate due to sleep apnea, which causes many diseases from heart disease to reflux, from sexual dysfunction to brain hemorrhage, is increasing rapidly in our country as well as all over the world. The improvement in the social life and quality of life of treated sleep apnea patients pushes us to further investigate this disease, its causes, consequences and treatment.
Some diseases have suddenly entered our lives in recent years, Sleep Apnea is one of them, what exactly is sleep apnea?
It can be described as shortness of breath during sleep, breathing stops abruptly and remains so for a while. Then the person makes an effort to breathe again with great effort. This situation is repeated so often during sleep; As the person's sleep is constantly interrupted, he wakes up tired the next day.
So you have a troubled sleep situation?
First of all, let's underline: A good night's sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I wish sleep apnea was just a troublesome sleep condition, but research shows that it can become a life-threatening condition.
What is the risk of sleep apnea patients?
In a patient who cannot breathe at night, while the oxygen level decreases, the carbon dioxide level rises, the brain secretes adrenaline and over time, the blood pressure rises. The heart is also affected by this situation and arrhythmia may develop, and after a while, heart failure develops. Reflux after lung enlargement is also a problem we encounter frequently in daily life. Imbalanced hormone secretion can lead to cerebral hemorrhage and vascular occlusion. The risk of stroke and heart attack increases.
How do we understand sleep apnea before these situations you mention occur? What are the symptoms?
These people wake up tired because of sleep interruption. They want to sleep whenever they find it during the day, especially if you are struggling to stay asleep at work and behind the wheel, immediately consult a doctor who deals with sleep apnea. Apart from this, attention disorder, forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating started. Depression is a common symptom, especially in the presence of moderate to severe apnea.
You mentioned sleeping at the wheel, wouldn't that increase the likelihood of a traffic accident?
Certainly. This situation doubles the risk of traffic accidents. In the USA, where there are approximately 28 million people with sleep apnea, in some states, drivers with untreated severe apnea are prohibited from driving on the road and heavy sanctions are imposed in this regard.
How does untreated sleep apnea affect life expectancy?
In fact, a disease that shortens life expectancy by a quarter is sleep apnea. The life expectancy of patients with untreated severe sleep apnea is 10-15 years. Death due to complications related to sleep apnea, heart attack, cerebral hemorrhage, etc. is happening.
How should sleep apnea be treated?
It is necessary to direct the treatment according to the results of the person's sleep test. We can only give a device (CPAP) in very severe cases, but compliance with this device is not as easy as we thought. The patient has to carry the device everywhere he goes, especially in young couples, the habit of sleeping with the device can affect sexual life. After a while, it can cause coldness between couples.
So, when and for which patients do you decide on the surgery?
If there are conditions such as nasal bone curvature, nasal flesh enlargement or large tonsils in the patients we have examined in detail, these problems should be solved first, even if the device will be given. Especially the curvature of the nasal bone is a reason that complicates the use of the device, this problem must be eliminated with surgery. In some patients, we are trying to widen the passage with stretching-opening surgeries for the soft palate and tongue root.