Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a problem that occurs when breathing stops while you are asleep. This occurs because the airways have become narrowed or partially blocked.
It’s more common in individuals over 60 though anyone can develop it.
If you snore a lot, wake up suddenly at night with a choking sensation and feel sleepy during the day, there is a good chance you are affected by obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
In this post, we will discuss the symptoms, treatment, causes, diagnosis, and complications.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
Daytime sleepiness is one of the most common symptoms of OSAS and is often one of the reasons why patients seek medical help. It is important to know how to distinguish drowsiness from fatigue. The first inability is that some patients find it hard to be fully awake during the day; lack of mental or physical energy is fatigue.
Too much of coffee during can be a symptom of excessive daytime sleepiness.
.This usually occurs in patients with repeated episodes of sleep apnea, which prevents the patient from going into a deep sleep stage. This type of complaint is mostly found among women.
Snoring during sleep is another typical characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea. Here is a clarification: not all patients who snore have OSAS, but more than 90% of OSAS patients snore. In another way, the existence of snoring is not sufficient to close the diagnosis of sleep apnea, but its absence makes OSA an unlikely possibility.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome should not be the first diagnostic hypothesis in thin individuals with mild snoring, but it is a likely scenario in the case of people who are overweight and snoring loudly.
In addition to daytime sleepiness and snoring, there are other signs and symptoms frequently associated with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome:
- Frequent awakening with dry mouth or sore throat
- Periods of interruption of breathing during sleep for at least 10 seconds.
- Frequent bad mood
- Lack of concentration
- Memory lapses
- Morning headache
- Decreased libido or impotence
- Awakening with chest pain
- Frequent need to urinate early in the morning
- Certain forms of the roof of the mouth (palate) or airway that cause the airway to collapse more easily
Causes of OSAS
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a very common disorder. It is estimated that approximately 20 to 30% of the adult male population and 10 to 15% of the adult female population suffer from this disease. However, only a minority of these people have the diagnosis properly established by a doctor.
Relaxation of the respiratory muscles is common during sleep, and in most people, it is not intense enough to cause obstruction of airflow. For obstructive sleep apnea syndrome to occur, some other factors need to be present. Obesity, old age, smoking, family history and changes in the anatomy of the airways are often the most important risk factors. But they’re not the only ones.
Diagnosis of OSAS
Patients with a history of suspected sleep apnea should be evaluated with a polysomnography test, which is usually performed at centers specializing in the treatment of sleep disorders.
Polysomnography is a non-invasive test, in which the patient sleeps while the doctor makes a complete record of the body’s activity, including brain electrical activity, heart and breathing rate, muscle tone, eye movements, and blood oxygenation rate.
Complications of OSAS
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have an increased risk of accidents or developing clinical diseases.
Accidents – traffic accidents are two to three times more common among patients with OSAS than in the general population. Individuals with sleep apnea should not drive vehicles, operate heavy machinery, or receive responsibilities that require careful supervision.
Cardiovascular disease – patients with OSAS are at increased risk for developing a wide range of cardiovascular complications, including hypertension, pulmonary hypertension, heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure and stroke.
Diabetes and metabolic syndrome – patients with obstructive sleep apnea have a higher prevalence of prediabetes, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Depression-several studies have shown that patients with OSAS have an incidence of approximately twice as much depression as the rest of the population.
Surgical complications – Patients with obstructive sleep apnea, who need surgery for any reason, are at increased risk of surgical complications, such as acute respiratory failure, postoperative cardiac events or the need for postoperative management in intensive care units.
Children and youth with obstructive sleep apnea may have poor school performance and attention or behavior problems.
Treatment of OSAS
The aim of OSAS treatment is to stop or improve episodes of apnea or hypopnea and improve oxygen saturation in the blood during sleep. In mild cases, simple measures can be effective. In the most severe forms, breathing equipment may be needed.
1- Lifestyle changes
Avoiding sleeping on your back can help reduce the number of respiratory events during sleep.
Sleeping medications, such as anti-anxiety medications, cannot be taken without medical guidance, as they can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
In severe OSAS, the patient is treated with a respirator as standard; CPAP (Continuous Positive Respiratory Pressure) during sleep. This device continuously pumps air into the nose and throat, both during inhalation and during exhalation. This creates an overpressure so that the walls of the pharynx cannot coincide. There will then be much fewer breath stoppages and the snoring is usually gone. It is clear that this is not a comfortable situation and that habituation is necessary. This is possible for most patients, but unfortunately not for every patient. If someone does not tolerate CPAP, it can be checked whether the patient qualifies for one of the other treatment options.
There are roughly three types of operations possible, depending on the level of airway obstruction. These are 1) nose surgery, 2) throat surgery or 3) neck surgery. Sometimes a combination of several interventions is necessary.