80% people forget to breathe while using PC: Experts

You must have heard of sleep apnea, but did you know about Email Apnea (EA)? The problem, say experts, affects 80% of internet users.

What is it?
Obesity expert, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala says EA is a term coined by Linda Stone, a former IT executive.

“It happens when a person becomes so engrossed in his/her computer that he/she forgets to breathe. It is a variant of sleep apnea, which is commonly seen in obese individuals. Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. EA happens when a person writing an e-mail — or doing any task on computer , which requires concentration — either dozes off or has a momentary lapse in concentration ,” says Dr Amit Saraf, consultant, internal medicine.

Diagnosis
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it warrants a visit to your physician. “A polysomnography, commonly known as sleep study, will usually nail the problem. It provides a lot of information in terms of monitoring the brain waves, muscle tone, airflow in the mouth and nose, heart rate and breathing behaviour,” says Dr Lakdawala.

Treatment
“EA is more common among obese individuals and the most important component of treatment includes weight loss. Monitoring breathing and using a heart-rate monitor are useful. If the apnea episodes occur more frequently , it is advisable to visit a doctor,” says Dr Lakdawala.

Adds Dr Amit, “This condition is also seen in people who have a medical condition called Metabolic Syndrome (which includes obesity, diabetes, hypertension and raised cholesterol). Keeping these problems under control, exercising daily, drinking lots of water and increasing fruit intake are some ways to prevent or cure EA.”

Tips to prevent it

* Take frequent breaks and practise breathing and eye exercises while working on a computer.
* Since obesity and e-mail apnoea are interlinked, weight control is very important.
* Follow a low-carb and high-fibre diet, avoid alcohol and late-night dinners/ snacks and exercise regularly.

Symptoms
Light-headedness
* Palpitations
* Facial flushing
* Anxiety
* Restlessness
* Excessive sweating
* Drowsiness
* Irritability
* Headaches
* Memory lapse at times

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