Apnoea / apnea is a term that describes spells of cessation of breathing. Sleep apnoea is when these episodes of breath holding happen during sleep. It is a condition that can become a cause for other serious issues such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, if left as such.
Snoring is just one of the symptoms of sleep apnoea. This is the much talked symptom because others can witness it and it can be a cause for embarrassment. Other symptoms that are often overlooked or not attributed to sleep apnoea include the following:
- Symptoms in Adults:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Restless sleep
- Frequent night-time awakenings
- Sensation of choking during sleep
- Dry and sore throat on waking up
- Night-time urination
- Sexual dysfunction
- Feeling of heavy headedness
- Symptoms in children:
- Poor school performance
- Sluggishness or laziness in classroom
- Mouth breathing
- Laboured breathing
- Unusual sleeping positions
- Excessive sweating
- Failure to put on weight
- Growth retardation
- Changes in facial bones and teeth structure
What are the causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?
As the name suggests, an obstruction in the upper airway is the cause of OSA. In adults, it’s the bulky soft tissue of the soft palate, base of tongue and pharyngeal wall that fall inwards due to high negative pressure generated during inspiration. Contrary to the popular opinion nasal block isn’t only to be blamed for snoring.
In children, it is the bulky tonsils and adenoids that are the main contributors to obstructive sleep apnea
A good history is necessary for making a differential diagnosis. A sleep study can identify the severity of disorder. This is followed by an awake endoscopy to rule out any static anatomical obstruction and a sleep endoscopy endoscopy to identify sites of dynamic obstruction. These two may be combined to a single procedure. Treatment options depend on whether central or obstructive, and the level of obstruction. Both surgical and non surgical management options are available.