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Blessings for People with Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Yangming Branch of Taipei City Hospital Establishes a Sleep Apnea Screening Center

      A lot of people are troubled by snoring or even sleep apnea. In order to provide more detailed assessment and treatment for these patients, the Yangming Branch of Taipei City Hospital has established the first sleep apnea screening center, which is another facility related to the diagnosis and treatment of breathing disorders, following the hospital’s establishment of adult and children's respiratory care wards.

      Zhang Xinping, Head of the Otolaryngology Department at the Yangming Branch of Taipei City Hospital, said that snoring is a sign of constriction of the respiratory tract during sleep, which is usually caused by stuffy nose, enlargement around the soft palate and tonsils, or thickened base of the tongue and chin retrusion. In more serious cases, complete obstruction of the airways may be recurrent during sleep, and others would notice that the patient stops snoring for more than 10 seconds and then struggles before breathing again; this is sleep apnea.

      Dr. Zhang said that the majority of patients are men or post-menopausal women; for those overweight, it is also common. Snoring disturbs others, but if it progresses to sleep apnea, it will affect the patient's own health because the patient would often suffer from hypoxia caused by airway obstruction and wake up, thus affecting the quality of sleep, resulting in daytime sleepiness. After a certain period of time, it can also cause changes in heart and lung function, leading to hypertension, heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases.

      She further explained that the so-called sleep apnea screening involves attaching wires onto the subject for the detection of brain waves, breathing, heart rate and blood oxygen, and then asking the subject to fall asleep according to his/her usual habit, in order to record the changes during the entire night. In the past, since the wires had to be connected to a bedside receiver, the subject’s activities would be restricted and inconvenient. The hospital branch has introduced wireless models for monitoring, whereby wires are not required to be connected to the bedside receiver, so that subjects can move and turn freely and thus fall asleep more easily. This is indeed a blessing for snoring patients suspected of suffering from sleep apnea.