Are You Sleeping Well?
Do your snore? Do you wake up gasping for breath from your sleep? Does your breathing pause while you are sleeping? Do you feel drained/ excessively tired and fall asleep during daytime?
If yes, it’s high time you sought medical help. Snoring is a commonly neglected health problem as most of us are unaware of long-term aftereffects of snoring. An issue that’s seen in both adults and children, the degree of snoring can vary from a simple primary snoring to a dangerous condition called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
The reasons for snoring in children include adenoid and tonsillar hypertrophy along with obesity. Since children cannot express their discomfort and difficulties effectively most of the time, the symptoms are often neglected/ ignored by parents, which in turn leads to serious issues like worsening of snoring, mouth breathing, hyper activity, poor scholastic performance, difficulty in hearing, late bed wetting and recurrent infections. Ignoring such symptoms can lead to irreversible effects on a child, including under development of facial bones, hearing loss and mal-alignment of dentition.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, which is considered a silent killer, will be more pronounced in children than in adults.
The common symptoms include:
- Feeling excessively sleepy during daytime
- Loud snoring on a regular basis
- Stopping of breathing during sleep
- Awakening from sleep, gasping for breath/choking
- Awakening from sleep with a dry mouth/ soreness in the throat
- Headache in the morning
- Difficulty in concentrating during the day
- Mood changes/ depression/ irritability
- Increased blood pressure
- Night sweats
- Decrease in libido
The other reasons for obstructive sleep apnea in children and adults include:
- Obesity or excess body weight
- LPRD (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease), wherein there is a backflow of stomach contents into the voice box and throat. This can occur during the day or night, while in an upright position or when lying down
- Deviated nasal septum
- Sinonasal polyposis
- Chronic tonsillitis
Diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea involves a detailed sleep study along with nasopharynx laryngoscopy (a diagnostic medical investigation using a flexible fibre optic endoscope to see the structures inside the nasal passages like the sinus openings, larynx, and the vocal cords).
Medical management of includes good allergic control, weight control, well-controlled glycemic/hypertensive status and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.
Surgical management modes include Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty - a sleep surgery involving tissue removal (tonsils/ adenoids) and/or remodeling of tissue in the throat.
Reduction of base of tongue and lateral sphincteroplasty can be done using the coblator (ablation, resection, and coagulation) technique, in which the amount of blood loss and pain is significantly lower.
Remember- snoring, which most of us consider as a normal thing, can have adverse aftereffects the brain and heart and even lead to cardiac arrest. Hence it is critical to address and manage sleep issues without delay.