‘What’s Up Doc’ is a health column in association with The Crawley Observer, which gives you the opportunity to ask questions regarding general health and wellbeing.
Answers are provided weekly from our specialist consultants at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital, Surrey. If it’s a long-standing illness or simply a worry which you would like to get off your mind then we would like to help.
This question appeared in The Crawley Observer to readers across Surrey and Sussex. The question and answer is below, as it appeared in the newspaper.
Read the response by Mr Sam Khemani, consultant ENT surgeon:
I have just gone into a new relationship, I am in my 50’s and so is he…I have been noticing that my new partner occasionally stops breathing during his sleep and I see him sort of gasping for breath. During the daytime when I want to go out he falls asleep and is very tired? I am worried about him as it can be quite dangerous. Please can you help, is there a treatment for this, can he be cured? Beryl, Horsham.
Dear Beryl, thank you for writing in with your concerns. From your description it sounds as if your partner may have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea or OSA. This is a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep. It is a relatively common condition, affecting around 4% of middle-aged men and 2% of middle-aged women. OSA is often first noticed between the ages of 35 and 54.
In OSA, episodes of obstruction to breathing interrupt normal sleep, leaving the person sometimes very tired the next day. This can be particularly worrying if they need to drive long distances or operate heavy machinery. Left untreated, OSA can also increase the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart attacks and strokes.
The good news is that OSA is a treatable problem. An ENT surgeon like myself can help diagnose the condition through an investigation called a polysomnogram or sleep study. Milder cases of OSA can be treated by simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight or by surgery. In more severe cases, the use of a special breathing device worn at night called CPAP can be used.