Snorers at risk, urged to get check-up

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Seventy percent of people in Taiwan snore during sleep, but up to 45 percent of them have ignored the problems. Medical experts said snorers should not overlook the symptoms because they could suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which will undermine their health, quality of life, and work performance. Medical specialists said that while insomnia has become more prevalent in Taiwan’s increasingly competitive society, OSA has also affected more people. OSA is a clinical condition with intermittent and repeated stops breathing during sleep.

In a survey jointly conducted by the Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine and Philips Taiwan, 70 percent of the more than 1,000 people covered in the survey said they snore, while only 20 percent know that snoring is a major symptom of OSA. Roughly 45 percent of those surveyed have sought no medical help at all because they are unaware of the potential threats of the problem, according to the report. The results, which were released on the eve of World Sleep Day on March 21, generally reflect similar reports in other areas, such as one conducted in Europe by Philips Electronics. Chairman Lin Chia-mo (林嘉謨) of the Sleep Medicine Society pointed out that snorers can stop breathing up to 100 to over 200 times during a night’s sleep and the stoppage of breath can last between 10 seconds to even two minutes.

Snorers who ignore the problem will not only suffer from chronically poor sleep quality and drowsiness during the daytime, but also increased blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, Lin said.

Lin and other medical experts recommend that snorers diagnosed with OSA should seek active therapy for long-term health improvement. The common treatments include adjusting sleep posture on bed, reducing body weight, wearing snore-reducing device in the mouth, and using a sleep apnoea machine to improve the functions of the respiratory system, Lin said. Chao Shun, an actor and entertainer, said that he has long known that he was a loud snorer, but he never realized that he normally stopped breathing some 170 times each night. After receiving treatment and using a electronic sleep apnea device known as a “continuous-positive-airway pressure” (CPAP) instrument, Chao said that he now sleeps much more soundly while his cardiovascular system functions have improved greatly. In addition to losing three kilograms in weight, Chao said his work performance has also improved significantly. He urged other people with snoring and sleeping troubles in Taiwan to seek medical assistance as early as possible for better health and quality of life. Many snorers tend to shun medical treatment because of the hassles and medical bills. Experts suggested that the government should provide greater financial assistance to snorers because they face greater risks for chronic illnesses involving the cardiovascular system and other conditions such as diabetes.