Snore can be a symptom of a dangerous disease


Artis Svaža, head of Sleep Disorder Centre, says that 5% of all European population suffer from the obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA), but in the USA this figure reaches up to 10%. There are about 100,000 patients with OSA in Latvia, but only 1/20 of them consulted a doctor to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment. What symptoms can suggest that I have sleep apnea and what does the treatment process involve?

The five most important symptoms that may suggest OSA: excessive sleepiness in daytime, loud and constant snoring, shortness of breath, choking at night, frequent urination at night and overweight. The patients of Sleep Disorder Centre say that if you regularly drop off to sleep while working at the computer, watching TV or even a performance at the theatre is not unusual, however, falling asleep while driving is particularly dangerous. According to the world statistics, 20% of all road traffic accidents occur because the driver fell asleep while driving, and these accidents result in people's death or severe injuries. A. Svaža indicates that the risk to die in a road traffic accident is 7 times higher for people suffering from OSA. Therefore the Cabinet Regulation No.940 especially stipulates medical contraindications for vehicle driving for the persons suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and refusing the treatment.

OSA is a disease that causes partial or complete obstruction of the airway during sleep and causes loud snoring, frequent episodes of apnea, decrease in blood oxygen level, frequent awakening that remain unnoticed by the patient. When muscle tone reduces during sleep, the forces that keep the airways open become weaker, and the airways constrict due to the pressure of the surrounding tissues. Acceleration of the air flow causes snore. Complete (apnea) or partial (hypopnea) airway obstruction occurs when the negative pressure in the chest and it sucking force become stronger than the muscle tone of the airways. Congenital anatomical features, such as narrow airways, further reinforce these processes.

One of the best known studies is the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, in which 1,522 patients with varying degrees of OSA who did not undergo treatment were followed up. In case of severe OSA 18-year survival was 60%, as compared with 96% in healthy population. The study also concluded that these patients are more likely to suffer from first-time stroke over the next four years.

Patients who did not undergo OSA treatment deteriorate the quality of life for their family members, because it is no secret that loud snoring is not easily tolerated. Statistics show that 10% of divorces in England occur because of snoring. It also affects the snoring person's well-being and performance. Zane Rēvalde, head of Jugla Clinic, Baltic Vein Clinic and Clinic of Dermatology, urges to tell about sleep and health issues to the general practitioner or seek help of a sleep specialist. Z. Rēvalde encourages: "OSA may affect people of any age – men, women and even children. Most people suffering from this disease don't even realise it; symptoms are often noticed by someone else. If you found symptoms that could suggest OSA, we urge you to apply for a consultation of sleep disorder specialists in order to find out the most effective treatment method! "

Nowadays CPAP therapy equipment (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) provides the most efficient treatment of moderately severe and severe types of sleep apnea. They are small devices that use light air flow to prevent snoring and airway obstruction. Mouth guards which reduce snoring can be made in case of primary snoring or mild sleep apnea. There are cases when sleep apnea can be treated surgically.

A. Svaža reassures: "Diagnostics can be carried out in the clinic or at home. The following indicators are registered during the night using special equipment: breathing, chest and abdominal movements, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, snoring, sleep position, and leg movements. If you are planning to undergo any medical procedures in any hospital and to stay there at night, it could be a good opportunity to combine it with the sleep check-up.”

If you have noticed the above-mentioned symptoms, we urge you to apply for a consultation of a sleep specialist in the Sleep Disorder Diagnostic Office of Health Center 4 at 117 Barona Street; diagnostics during the night can also be carried out in Jugla Clinic where patients are examined using special equipment. Detailed information can be found at Health Center 4 web-site and at

“I got enough sleep and I feel alert for the first time in many years”, says one of OSA patients who started treatment using CPAP therapy device. Therefore we urge everyone who noticed the symptoms that could indicate OSA to undergo examinations and start treatment to prevent severe medical issues in the future.

Riga office: Str.Baznīcas 31, Rīga, Latvia. +371 202 116 11,