Sleep apnoea treatment “underfunded and poorly understood”


More investment is needed from medical authorities into treatment of the condition of sleep apnoea, according to an expert in Scotland this week. The sleep disorder, which manifests in frequent pauses in breathing throughout the night, is a relatively common condition, making up between 80-90% of all sufferers complaints at one Edinburgh clinic. As a major sleep disorder, sleep apnoea can be directly responsible for a number of other health problems, along with sleep deprivation-related issues such as low productivity and drowsy driving.

Speaking at the ‘Perils of Sleep’ event as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival, Dr. Renata Riha from the city’s Royal Infirmary Department of Sleep Medicine said; “It (sleep apnoea) causes excessive daytime sleepiness. It can present a risk in terms of sleepiness while driving and at work. It can impair memory, mood and concentration and put a strain on relationships. There are a large number of people who are ¬undiagnosed.”

While the even focused on the condition in Scotland, sleep apnoea is a prevalent disorder suffered around the world.

Typical treatment processes for diagnosed sleep apnoea include the use of CPAP machines, mask devices worn during sleep that maintain continuous airway pressure during the night and prevent gaps in breathing, and weight loss programmes that are aimed at reducing the excess tissue around the neck area – both of which are not at the level of funding that the condition currently demands, according to Dr. Riha.

“The entire operation is underfunded and poorly understood,” she said.

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