Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms may be observed not only in adults but in children as well. Sleep apnea is a asleep sickness characterized by frequent recurring breathing pauses of ten seconds or more that occur while sleeping. There are 3 types of sleep apnea, obstructive, central and mixed or complex. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is by long way the most common type of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms are caused by blockages in the air passages of the throat and nasal airways.
These blockages usually also cause a person to snore while sleeping. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is characterized by a failure of the brain to send signals to the muscles responsible for breathing while mixed sleep apnea causes a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms are normally caused by a narrowing of the throat area. During sleep, many of the muscles in our bodies relax. Of course, there are many exceptions like our heart and lungs which never stop. The throat muscles also don’t relax as they must remain open for air to freely pass through so we can breathe. When people experience obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, the upper throat area sometimes relaxes which can cause them to become constricted thereby allowing the air passages to become blocked. Other factors can also contribute to obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
A misshaped palate can also block the airways. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can cause a problem, restricting air flow. Having a large neck and collar can also contribute to obstructive sleep apnea symptoms because the excess fat and tissue can reduce the amount of air that passes through. A large tongue, which can slide back at the rear of the mouth, can also block the airways and cause obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms for Adults: Excessive drowsiness during the day Memory and concentration problems due to poor quality sleep Headaches in the morning or night time At night, may experience heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth Leg swelling Waking up while sleeping needing to urinate Pain in the chest area and night sweats Frequent breathing pauses of more than 10 seconds while sleeping Snoring loudly Tossing and turning in bed while sleeping Waking up because of choking or shortness of breath Can be easily annoyed, grumpy or impatient Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms for Children: Snoring, breathing in the mouth, restlessness, waking up a lot and sweating for children under 5 years old Bed wetting, poor performance in school, drowsiness during the day, stunted growth and behavioral problems for children 5 years old and above
Only trained medical personnel or a sleep specialist can help in properly diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. A medical history is usually taken plus the Epworth Sleepiness Scale is administered. Depending on the answers to the questionnaire, the doctor can recommend a sleep study, called a Polysomnography, which records what happens to the body during sleep. Blood tests and electrocardiogram or an echocardiogram may also be recommended.
Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can include lifestyle changes that will limit alcohol and sedative intake before bedtime, recommendations to sleep on your side vs. your back, or encouragement to lose weight. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and Bi-Level Positive Airway Pressure machines are very common recommendations for obstructive sleep apnea treatment. These require wearing a mask that is connected to a sleep apnea machine that supplies positive air pressure during sleep helping to keep the airways open.
Oral devices like mouthpieces that correctly position the tongue or jaw to prevent airway blockage can also be prescribed by your doctor. In some cases, surgery can be performed for more severe sleep apnea cases. Removing excess tissues at the back of the throat, lifting the back of the tongue, correcting abnormal facial structures, repairing nose and sinus passages, inserting small polyester rods into the soft palate to help make it more firm and reduce vibrations, and performing a tracheotomy or windpipe opening are some of the surgical procedures used to treat obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.