Dubai: As many Dubai residents suffer from sleep disorders, the Dubai Health Authority is all set to raise awareness on sleep apnoea or lack of sleep for residents on April 23.

The aim of the campaign is to help improve public knowledge about signs, symptoms, complications, diagnosis, and treatment options for sleep problems which cause stress, anxiety and lead to other health complications.

Dr Abdul Rahman Al Jasmi, CEO of Dubai Hospital who will inaugurate the campaign, said: “Public awareness and education are important for early detection, prevention and management of diseases. In line with the DHA’s 2013-2025 health strategy, it is our aim to empower the public through such health educational campaigns.”

Dr Fadhil Mustafa Abdullah Al Shama, head of internal medicine department at Dubai Hospital and consultant endocrinologist, said: “People are generally unaware about sleep problems and normally approach the doctor when the symptoms increase. Our aim is to raise awareness and thus promote early detection through this campaign.”

Al Shama attributed a majority of sleep problems to sleep apnoea, a disease caused by poor oxygenation of the blood while sleeping. “The disorder is characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.”

Dr Manoj P. Mathews, senior specialist registrar in internal medicine department at Dubai Hospital, said that obesity and sleep apnoea are strongly linked and that people who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

Dr Mathews listed the symptoms which include excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue, insomnia, loud snoring, tiredness and irritability, among other symptoms. He also commented on snoring which is a precursor to sleeplessness and said: “Snoring is not harmful per se but when it is related to sleep apnoea it should be evaluated because if left untreated it can cause serious heart, lung and blood pressure problems.”

He added that loud snoring or the kind that leads to gasping and waking up should not be taken lightly and the patient should visit a health-care professional to test themselves.

The specialists said that to detect sleep problems several baseline blood tests are done and a sleep study may be required.

In terms of treatment, Mathews said that treatment generally depends on the underlying cause of sleep apnoea. “The fundamental treatment for patients with sleep apnoea is lifestyle changes, diet and exercise to reduce weight. Even a slight drop in body weight can lead to significant improvement in the condition.

He also added: “In addition to this, depending on the type of sleep apnoea, patients are either given machines to help them sleep better or surgery may be needed in cases of obstruction (usually in the upper respiratory track) to unblock the airways.”

The campaign will take place on April 23 in the lobby of Dubai Hospital where educational material will be distributed to patients and visitors.