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The uncomfortable sound of apnea


New way to diagnose the disorder: record and analyze the sound of snoringPAULA MUNIZ

To facilitate the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by pauses during breathing while one is asleep, the  Physics Institute (IF) of the University of São Paulo (USP) has developed a new method that consists of using a tape recorder to capture the sounds emitted by patients while asleep (Physica A, on-line, August 25, 2012). The sounds are processed and measured in decibels by a computer before being converted to a graph using a system called ‘Snore Time Interval Index’.  Intervals between snores lasting more than 10 seconds but less than 100 seconds describe a complete stoppage of breathing, i.e., apnea. Currently, the diagnosis is made through a polysomnography exam, a high cost procedure in which the patient is required to sleep in a hospital or specialized institute while connected to monitoring equipment.  The new technique, developed by professors Adriano Alencar at the IF and Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho coordinator of the Sleep Laboratory at the USP School of Medicine was tested on 17 patients and used in speech therapy research.