Sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops involuntarily during sleep, is a significant health concern. Now, a new study shows that changes in sweat metabolism can help diagnose the severity of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when breathing is interrupted during sleep, for longer than 10 seconds at least five times per hour throughout the sleep period, according to John Hopkins Medicine. People with sleep apnea often experience breathlessness, fatigue and drowsiness. It has also been linked to cardiovascular disorders.
Hence, proper diagnosis and treatment of the disease is crucial. According to the researchers, one way to determine the severity of the disease is by observing changes in the metabolism of people with sleep apnea.
Generally, these changes can be analysed using blood or urine samples. However, in this study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the researchers looked at a less invasive solution. They analysed sweat samples to better understand sleep apnea, a press statement revealed.
"By analysing sweat metabolome and its alterations, mainly at night, we were able to see what stage of the disease the patients were in," lead author Laura Castillo explained in the statement. A major advantage of using sweat samples is that the researchers don't have to remove proteins, and it's much easier to analyse and detect metabolites.
The analysis showed that sweat metabolism indicates that changes during sleep cause a person’s energy production to worsen and their oxidative stress increases. This study could make the diagnosis of sleep apnea easier in the long run. Moreover, the metabolomic profile also made it possible to distinguish between those who suffered from sleep apnea and those who did not have it, the researchers wrote in the statement.
Researchers have been on the lookout for accessible prevention and treatment options for sleep apnea. For instance, in March, a study by researchers from the University of Auckland revealed that there is a new could be a new medicine, AF-130, that could prevent sleep apnea. It also offers benefits for heart failure. Currently, there is no drug for sleep apnea, only CPAP (a breathing device), which is poorly tolerated.