Published On : Wed, Jun 25th, 2014

Ignoring snoring could be a fatal mistake



Mr. Pande, passed away suddenly in his bed last night. He was only fifty and leaves behind a grieving wife and two school going kids.
“He went peacefully in his sleep. At least he didn’t suffer. Very fortunate man!” opined some people gathered for the funeral. “He looked quite healthy. No one would have guessed that he would get such a massive and fatal heart attack without warning.” moaned his stunned

Little does Mrs. Pande or any of the relatives realize that for YEARS Mr. Pande’s body was shouting out that it was in distress and needed help. Which, sadly, was accessible but never came. The fact is every time Mr. Pande went to sleep and immediately began snoring it was an indication that all was not well inside his body, especially his nose and airways, but apart from thinking of the snoring as a nuisance, or a joking matter, who thought of anything else? Alas, it is too late for Mr. Pande and his family ( a fictitious case and name but must have happened with many Indians ) but it may not be too late for you or your near and dear ones.


” Five to six % of deaths due to cardiac failures in USA and other Western nations are brought about by damage to the heart due to sleep ‘Apnea’ the primary symtom of which is snoring. Treated in time, it is 100% curable” informs Dr. Seemab Shaikh, ENT surgeon and ​F​ounder National President of IASSA ( Indian Association of Surgeons for Sleep Apnea) who was in Nagpur recently for a medical conference​ talking mainly on obstructive Sleep Apnea and its treatment.


Dr. Seemab Shaikh

Dr. Seemab Shaikh

Explaining what sleep apnea is Dr. Seemab Shaikh said ” it is cessation (stopping ) of breath during sleep”.

According to the world famous Mayo clinic (USA) medical information:

“Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in, and you can’t get an adequate breath in. This may lower the level of oxygen in your blood. Your brain senses this inability to breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.

You may make a snorting, choking or gasping sound. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night long.
These disruptions impair your ability to reach the desired deep, restful phases of sleep, and you’ll probably feel sleepy during your waking hours.

People with obstructive ​S​leep ​A​pnea may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, some people with this type of sleep apnea think they sleep well all night. ”

Another symptom that you may be suffering from ​S​leep ​A​pnea is when you wake up with a dry and parched throat and mouth.

This continued disturbance to your sleep can cause your heart to weaken, opening the gates for other heart ptoblems to occur and eventually lead to a heart attack. In some cases it can even lead to a stroke and paralysis.

Dr. ​Seemab ​Shaikh added that ​over a period of time, ​ snoring ​&​ sleep apnea, if undiagnosed and left untreated can be fatally dangerous. Other age related morbidities like , having high blood pressure and diabetes can accelerate the process of heart damage.


“Snoring is ​your body’s​ way of telling you that something is wrong with your body. Do not ignore it. Specially if you are a man and of any age above 30. Women are protected from this problem by their hormones till menopause after which they are equally at risk.” Warned Dr.​ Seemab​ Shaikh.


As soon we hear the word ‘surgery’ we tend get scared about the process and the expenses so we put off going to the Doctor.

“Dont make this mistake for God’s sake” says Dr. ​Seemab ​Shaikh. ” Medical research and developments have been so rapid in this field that there is a good chance you can be helped non-surgically too or by simple corrective procedures which are minimally invasive.”

Two types of medical examination can be done of a patient who comes in with a complain of constant snoring.

1) Camera evaluation – video endoscopy of the nose and air passage
ways to the lungs.

2) Sleep Study – where you​ are tested overnight and your
sleep patterns and apnea condition can be studied and recorded by
diagnostic machines.

Some of the non-surgical procedures that can bring a patient relief are Volumetric reduction by Radio frequency or Coblation.


If your child snores and seems to do mouth breathing while asleep; if he/she does bed wetting even after infancy or shows other symptoms like fall in school performance, irritability, tiredness do not ignore these symptoms. As Dr. ​Seemab ​Shaikh explains “Sleep apnea is not uncommon in children too, though the causes are different. In their case it could be due to growth of tonsils, leading to blockage of air path or ​A​denoids. ​ One of the most important points to note in a child is the decrease in his scholastic performance. i.e if his school performance has been consistently decreasing over the past year along with symptoms of mouth breathing, and other symptoms related to OSA, then the child MUST get evaluated.

Both conditions can be cured surgically.

The study and treatment of Sleep Apnea is a relatively new field in India and Dr. Seemab Shaikh is its Pioneer. After working as the HOD of ENT at the Inamdar Hospital in Pune and also being associated as Surgeon with KEM, Dr. Shaikh realized that a lot of developments had taken place in this field internationally and he took time off from his medical practise to train in the latest techniques in Norway, Singapore and Germany. He is back at his practise in Pune now.Apart from being the Founder President of IASSA he is also a Life Member of the Indian Sleep Disorder Association. (ISDA)

The​ IASSA was ​formed around ​ago​ and is represented in Nagpur by well known ENT surgeons and physicians like Dr. Madan Kapre. Awareness of this problem is growing rapidly and membership of the Assn growing nationally. Dr.​ Seemab​ Shaikh can be contacted at
Sunita Mudaliar