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Sleep apnea, also called childhood obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, is characterized by episodic upper airway obstruction that occurs during sleep. Apnea is a medical term for suspension of external breathing. The airway obstruction may be complete or partial. Sleep disruption leaves some children with daytime somnolence, difficulty waking in the morning, and disturbed concentration. Complaints of nocturnal enuresis, nightmares, and morning headaches may also occur.
Types of sleep apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common form and occurs when the throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea occurs when the patient’s brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Incidence of the sleep apnea
Obstructive apnea is believed to affect approximately 4% of men and 2% of women in the United States. It is estimated that about 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs two to three times more often in older adults.
The most common symptoms
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea can vary which is making this type of sleep apnea more difficult to diagnose. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Loud snoring - Disruptive snoring may be more characteristic in obstructive sleep apnea, while awakening with shortness of breath may be more common in central sleep apnea.
- Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
- Abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
Some additional symptoms that may accompany the sleep apnea are:
- unrefreshing sleep
- chest retraction during sleep in young children
- high blood pressure
- weight gain
- change in personality
- difficulty concentrating
- excessive perspiring during sleep
- reduced libido
- frequent nocturnal urination
- restless sleep
- confusion upon awakening