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Sleep apnoea and how it manifests itself

In simple terms, apnoea means lack of breathing. Starting from the factors that cause it, several types of apnoea have been identified: mechanical, that is, caused by obstruction of the upper airways; reflex, caused by excitement of inhibitory reflexogenic areas; and voluntary, which occurs due to the deliberate stopping of breathing.
The apnoea is defined as a respiratory disorder that is manifested by repeated and frequent respiratory breaks. The most common type of apnoea is the sleep apnoea, also known as SAS Sleep Apnoea Syndrome. As the name suggests, SAS occurs during sleep, and the airflow shutdown period is of about 10 seconds. The number of apnoea episodes may vary from 5 to 50 per hour of sleep.

Types of apnoea

This condition has different degrees of severity: mild, moderate or severe. The degree of severity is determined by the duration and frequency of the apnoea or bradypnoea episodes, which means a decrease in the rate of respiration. There are three types of SAS apnoea: obstructive apnoea (ASO), central apnoea and mixed apnoea.

Symptoms of obstructive apnoea (ASO) in adults

Some of the symptoms are common to all ASO patients. These include excessive snoring and drowsiness, which is manifested by falling asleep in inappropriate contexts, such as during meals, driving, or talking to others. Persons suffering from obstructive apnoea may also exhibit some of the following symptoms: restless sleep and / or restless sleep that leads to deterioration of intellectual abilities (memory, concentration), chest pain, headache upon awakening, irritability, fatigue, emotional disturbances.

ASO in the elderly

In the elderly patients breathing stops during sleep occur naturally, but these short breaks do not cause serious damage to the arterial oxygen concentration. These breathing stops (normal with age) make it difficult to diagnose obstructive apnea in older adults.

Symptoms of ASO in children

The ymptomatology of ASO in children differs according to age. In children under 5, the condition is manifested by snoring, oral breathing, sweating, agitation and awakening during sleep. Children who are over 5 years old have other symptoms, such as nocturnal enuresis, growth and development retardation. These children have behavioral and attention deficit disorders, and their school performance is low. A common symptom in children and adults is snoring. Fortunately, daytime somnolence is not the same in the case of children as in adults. For some of the children, the manifestations of the disease are not even noticed and the only visible symptom is the slowing of the growth rate compared to the children of the same age group. In very rare cases, ASO in children causes Chronic lung disease (cor pulmonale) (right ventricular hypertrophy).
If some of the symptoms mentioned above are found in a child or adult, they should be taken to the doctor for a specialised consultation.

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Last Updated on March 9, 2020

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