Obstructive sleep apnea is a common, yet serious kind of sleep disorder. This is also known as obstructive sleep apnea-hypopnea. This sleeping disorder is reported to have a considerable decrease in airflow while breathing. This disorder is characterized by frequent sessions of upper airway collapse during sleep. These sessions are associated with recurrent oxyhemoglobin desaturations and arousals from sleep. Because of this, patients with this disorder commonly struggle with repeated breathing troubles while sleeping. Though, There are several types of sleep apnea, the common is obstructive sleep apnea. This type of apnea is the result of intermittent relaxing of throat muscles, which leads to the blocking of the airway during sleeping.
Common signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
Abrupt awakenings followed by gasping or choking
Awakening with a dry mouth or a sore throat
A morning headache
Difficulty in concentrating during daytime
High blood pressure
One of the major reason for obstructive apnea is having excess weight and obesity. Obese people generally have soft tissues in mouth and throat. While sleeping, muscles of throat and tongue are in a relaxed stage and this soft tissue will block the airway. There are other factors also which contributes to this disease. In children, the common causes include enlarged tonsils, large overbite dental conditions etc. Though not common, tumor or growth in the airway, birth abnormalities such as down syndrome, Pierre- Robin syndrome may also lead to Obstructive sleep apnea
Certain categories are easily at risk to have Obstructive sleep apnea. They include:
Children with large tonsils and adenoids
men with a collar size of 17 inches or more
women having collar size about 16 inches or more
large tongue, which can block the airway
retrognathia i.e. lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw
Airway which collapses easily
People with obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure
Proper care should be given to diagnose and treat the disease promptly. should be diagnosed and treated promptly. Treatment depends majorly on the severity of disordered breathing while sleeping. Those have mild apnea have a wider variety of options than those with moderate-to-severe apnea. Major treatments available can be listed as below:
1. Lifestyle remedies
Avoid alcohol and medications tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
Sleeping on the side or abdomen
Keeping nasal passages open while sleeping
2. Oral devices
Positive airway pressure: a machine delivers air pressure through a piece fitted in nose and mouth while sleeping)
Mouthpiece-oral device: oral appliances are found as an effective alternative for reducing sleepiness. This is found effective among people with mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
3. Surgical Procedures: These are advised only in the cases where the therapies and lifestyle changes are found ineffective. Common Surgical procedures suggested are :
Surgical removal of tissue.
Upper airway stimulation.
The surgical opening in the neck.
Nasal surgery to remove polyps
Surgery to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids
Eye problems, daytime fatigue and sleepiness, cardiovascular problems and complications with medications and surgery are reported as the major complications for this disease. In addition to these complications, patients with this disorder can get their partners to sleep deprived, majorly because of their loud snoring.
Dr. Nikhil Agnihotri - Bariatric Surgeon in New Delhi provides treatment for patients suffering from Obstructive sleep apnea in Delhi, India.
Authored By Dr.Nikhil Agnihotri