Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What are the symptoms?
Obstructive sleep apnea is most common among overweight males over age 40, but it can occur in otherwise healthy men, women and children of any age group. If you are frequently tired upon waking and throughout the day or if you have trouble staying asleep at night, ask yourself these questions:
- Have I been told that I snore or stop breathing during sleep?
- Do I wake up throughout the night or constantly turn from side to side?
- Have I been told that my legs or arms jerk while I’m sleeping?
- Do I make abrupt snorting noises during sleep?
- Do I feel tired or fall asleep during the day?
What do I do if I have symptoms?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you could have sleep apnea, and it is important that you discuss such symptoms with your doctor as soon as possible. The greatest danger from obstructive sleep apnea is that it is so often undiagnosed. It can be treated in a variety of ways, but you must make your health care providers aware if you suffer from any of the symptoms described above.
What if I am having surgery and have sleep apnea?
Anesthesiologists need to be especially vigilant about obstructive sleep apnea. During general anesthesia, the patient’s airway can collapse. This is normal but must be carefully monitored by the anesthesiologist, even in the case of a normal airway. That makes it even more important that the anesthesiologist be aware of the already-restricted airway of the person with sleep apnea.
What if I have more questions?
If you have or suspect you have obstructive sleep apnea and you need surgery, be sure to discuss your symptoms with your physician prior to the procedure. Your chances of complications are remote, but If your physician suspects that you have sleep apnea, precautions can be taken before, during and after your surgery. This will help to minimize the possibility of complications from sleep apnea that might occur during anesthesia and surgery.