Why Obstructive Sleep Apnea needs to be Identified and Treated Early #Philips #DontSleepOnIt

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
If I were to ask you to close your eyes and think of someone you know who is on the chubbier side, tends to be lethargic at work and whom you know snores really loudly in bed, who comes to mind? More importantly, did you smile picturing that image of him or her?

Please don't. What you are seeing are the signs of a disorder that has devastating effects on the individual and can even be fatal in the long run. It is time to talk about Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

The global survey on ‘Better Sleep, Better Health’ showed that over 80 percent of the 100 million suffering from OSA remain undiagnosed even as their health worsens.

What is OSA?

OSA is a disorder characterized by repeated episodes of stopping of breathing (while asleep) due to upper airway collapse. This obstruction asphyxiates the individual and forcibly stimulates them to breathe, typically until they awaken. 

The global survey on ‘Better Sleep, Better Health’ showed that over 80 percent of the 100 million suffering from OSA remain undiagnosed even as their health worsens.

Imagine this happens over and over again during the course of the night? The oxygen supply declines, affecting all your vital organs over a period of time.

Signs, Symptoms & Sequelae

This may manifest as seemingly random symptoms like: 
  • snoring, 
  • excessive sleepiness during the day time, 
  • depression, 
  • irritability or 
  • forgetfulness. 
Unfortunately, it does not stop with snoring and sleepiness during the day time.

OSA is directly associated with several serious disorders ranging from hypertension, heart disease, heart failure, diabetes mellitus and strokes that can kill a person if not treated early. People suffering from OSA are also associated with a greater incidence of motor vehicular accidents due to decreased alertness and reflexes.

Signs and diseases associated with obstructive sleep apnea

Who are at greater risk of OSA?

The first Indian initiative on Obstructive Sleep Apnea (INOSA) Guidelines identified the following groups as being at greater risk –

  • Older age 
  • Men (> Women)
  • Pregnant Women
  • Post Menopausal Women
  • Obesity (central fat distribution)
  • People with thicker necks
Potential risk factors included –

  • Genetic pre-disposition
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Endocrine disorders (hypothyroidism)
  • ·      


    The latest annual study conducted by Philips showed that more than 100 million people globally suffered from sleep apnea. India is suspected to have around 30 to 35 million of these OSA patients.

    The biggest hurdle is the lack of awareness about how serious a disease OSA is. INOSA recommends that people undergoing routine health examinations should also have a comprehensive sleep evaluation if there is a history of the symptoms mentioned above or if they are associated with high risk factors like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke.

    In-hospital overnight polysomnography (PSG) is the gold standard for evaluation of sleep-disorders. Philips Healthcare alone has established over 400 Sleep Labs across India already to help identify and raise awareness about this grave disease.  


    Lifestyle modifications that can help include weight loss, stopping smoking, avoiding alcohol and treating causes of nasal obstruction. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is still recognized as the gold standard treatment of OSA. Since its invention in 1983, CPAP devices have received significant modifications keeping in mind patient comfort and need for long term use.

    How do CPAP devices help?

    The key goal is to stop these apnea events during sleep and ensure proper oxygenation is achieved during sleep.  CPAP devices like the DreamStation Go achieve this by increasing the upper airway pressure, thus constantly preventing airway obstruction during sleep.

    Studies conducted over decades have repeatedly shown that consistent use of CPAP:

    • does not just reduce but actually reverses both daytime and nocturnal symptoms of people suffering from OSA, producing a dramatic improvement in the quality of life of the patients and, in many cases, their bed partners too.
    • has shown an improvement in heart disease following use of CPAP devices.
    • reduces blood pressure
    • also reduces cholesterol levels.
    • shows a significant improvement in simulated driving performance within just 2–7 days.

    In the past, there were two main reasons why people did not consider taking treatment for OSA.

    One was that the earliest CPAP devices were cumbersome and uncomfortable.
    It is 2019 now and devices like the DreamStation Go are portable, compact systems that allow easy set up and can be managed from your mobile device with basic apps.
    Unlike the old devices, modern ones like the DreamWear allow patients to sleep comfortably in any position with more freedom too. With all of these available with no-cost EMI options, the financial stress is greatly relieved too.

    The most important reason why people did not consider taking treatment for ‘snoring and daytime sleepiness’ remains lack of awareness about what Obstructive Sleep Apnea is. The global survey on ‘Better Sleep, Better Health’ showed that over 80 percent of the 100 million suffering from OSA remain undiagnosed even as their health worsens.

    The global survey on ‘Better Sleep, Better Health’ showed that over 80 percent of the 100 million suffering from OSA remain undiagnosed even as their health worsens.
    Source: Philips 2019 survey

    It makes sense. Awareness matters. That is why I am here with this article. This is me telling you to not smile when you see your friends, colleagues or loved ones tired during the daytime or if you know he or she is having disturbed sleep. Your intervention can not only help them finally get a good night’s sleep but change their lives forever.

    To know more: SMS SLEEP to 58888 or Call 1800 258 7678 or log onto www.philips.co.in

    Benefits of using CPAP machines

    Philips makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, with regard to the accuracy or completeness of information, content or materials or views expressed in this article by the author. It is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. The reader of this article is cautioned not to use or replicate any information included herein to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease without consulting a qualified health care professional. Philips shall not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the contents of this article, including but not limited to direct, indirect, incident, punitive and consequential damages.

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    Let me know what you think.

    1. Nice post thanks for sharing this valuable and informative article.keep posting...
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    2. Now thats something worth reading. These are the symptoms we would not even bother to care about. Who knew there could be something going on with our body and these could be our body crying for help. Thanks for such an amazing post.

    3. @Anaea,OSA is peculiar that way in that the symptoms are right in front of our eyes at times and yet we dont realize it. That is why awareness is key.

    4. Madhumita BiswasJune 26, 2019

      Surprised I never heard of this OSA. In our family,both my in-laws snore.Should we be worried?

    5. @madhumita snoring alone is not a sign of OSA alone. Look for other signs (I have mentioned them in the inforgraphic). If you see some of those signs as well in your ILs, then I honestly would request you to consider seeking a proper evaluation.

      Early detection of OSA and treatment with CPAP devices can make a significant difference in their lives.

    6. Sudhanshu AroraJune 26, 2019

      Is that device tough to wear?I wonder how people will feel wearing it a whole night.

    7. Diwakaran PanickerJune 26, 2019

      Good to know this.I actually do know someone who might be suffering from this disease and I didnt realize it till this article.

    8. @Sudahshu, good to hear from you again. Earlier devices were a bit difficult to wear but the newer ones from Philips that you see in the links are actually quite comfortable in comparison.

    9. @Diwakaran, many actually will know someone or the other who fits this description. That is exactly the problem. We take it for granted or feel it is nothing serious but OSA is actually extremely serious.

    10. Sumaira SiddiquiJune 28, 2019

      Are there medicines that can be given instead for that problem? Available in India?

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