Sleep Apnoea Leads to Stigmatisation?

Fri, Mar 11, 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald recently a well written and wide ranging article on snoring and sleep apnoea, titled ‘To Sleep Perchance To Sleep’, by Steve Dow.

The article provides a good insight into the life of a person with a severe form of sleep disordered breathing, with some disturbing descriptions of the impacts the conditions can have.

Amongst other things, Dow refers to a 2005 Yale University study which found sleep apnoea doubled the risk of stroke and death.  His article also mentions some of the social / economic consequences – i.e., loss of employment and loss of drivers licence as a result of an untreated SDB condition.

Dow demonstrates this important point when he reports that recent media attention has researchers worried that sufferers may not come forward for treatment, fearing a stigma.   He cites the case of Judge Dodd, the NSW District Court judge who was forced into retirement after the NSW Judicial Commission deemed him medically unfit following an investigation into accusations the then 57-year-old had fallen asleep during evidence in a rape trial.

Sad thing is, he almost certainly suffered from sleep apnoea and almost certainly could have been treated successfully.