Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea




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.

Helpful Links

What is Anesthesiology

Total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.


Anesthesia Topics Quick Links

Choose a topic:

Featured Video:

Smoking and Surgery
Learn why stopping smoking before surgery can have an impact on your outcome.

Play Video

In Case of Emergency

Download, print, fill out, and keep this checklist. It just may save your life.


Come Prepared

Ask your anesthesiologist questions about what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.


The ASA does not employ physician anesthesiologists on staff and cannot respond to patient inquiries regarding specific medical conditions or anesthesia administration. Please direct any questions related to anesthetics, procedures or treatment outcomes to the patient’s anesthesiologist or general physician.