Health & Pillow


Dr Chew Heng Hai

A General Practitioner to say the least. He has just gone beyond treating patients in an everyday life to becoming a medical device inventor and researcher to increase the well-being of patients. To date, he has five patented medical devices and is the winner of multiple local and international invention awards including the Malaysian Champion and world top five in Clean Tech Open 2010. Dr Chew is also a regular speaker at international conferences, universities and medical colleges around the world.

“Sleep is one of the most important factors determining our general health. Lack of quality sleep over a prolong duration will contribute to various health problems.”

There are multiple factors influencing quality of sleep. These include work stress, coffee intake, medication, pillow, mattress and bed.

Among all these, pillow probably is the most important factor among all. It is associated with a wide range of medical problems including headache, neck pain, snoring and asthma.

Conventional pillow is made from cotton or cotton-like synthetic material. These pillows have maximum height at the center, so while in use it supports the head most and cause forward flexion of the neck and airway narrowing that contribute to snoring. Compare to a scenario in medical practices: a patient’s neck is maintained in an extended position that supports the back of the neck to achieve maximum airway opening common for patient in coma or under general anesthesia.

Depending on severity of airway narrowing during sleep, a person may suffer from snoring or even obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring is sound produced when breathing air forced through narrow airway. Sleep apnea refers to situation when breathing temporarily pauses during sleep.

Both of these situation restrict airflow and result in decrease oxygen supply to the affected person. As oxygen is an essential component to staying healthy, compromised oxygen supply would contribute to various medical problems ranging from hormone disturbance, depression, high blood pressure, stroke and sudden death in sleep. The problem happens more among obese people and incidences increase as age progress.

In side-sleeping positions when pillow support is too low or too high, there will be nonalignment of the spine which can cause pain for the shoulder, head and neck.

With improper selection of a pillow, a person can have negative health impact as early as the following day. If a person do not have a quality sleep, his or her blood pressure would be relatively higher than the days of a quality sleep. And if the problem is uncorrected, high blood pressure is a common problem that can gradually lead to more serious health risk in the future.

So an ideal pillow should be contoured and firm to provide the support needed. In back-sleeping position, the neck should be supported more than the head for optimum airway opening. In side position the support should be firm and high enough to maintain healthy alignment of the spine. At the same time it should be made from material soft enough for a comfortable sleep.

Latex foam meet the criteria as it can be molded to a desirable shape. Rubber latex possesses a natural anti-fungus and antibacterial properties. With the latest technology, the protein content a potential allergen-is removed makes the pillow hypoallergenic.

In short, a proper pillow selection plays an important role in our health. It deserves due attention in prevention and management of chronic health issues.





市面上较为普通的棉质枕头大多数会重点支撑头部,躺下去頭很容易向後仰, 脖子和頭部自然的曲度發生,使喉部肌肉過度緊張,從而加重打鼾的程度。临床实验证实,昏迷中的病人颈部会被支撑而保持延伸的姿势,好让病人能呼吸顺畅。

当空气通过气道不畅或者气道内软组织或肌肉发生振动时,便会出现打鼾。当人呼吸时,下垂组织会使气道变得狭窄,并发生振动或颤动,便会发出打鼾声。不合理的枕頭,會造成大腦缺血,引發腦損傷,同時血壓升高、心率加快,使得心臟缺血、 缺氧,並加重疾病甚至誘發死亡。总而言之,過高和過低的枕頭都會對頸椎產生不良影響。




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