Symptoms of OSA

Although the breathing problems in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea are usually limited to sleep, the main symptoms are experienced when the patient is awake. Characteristic symptoms include waking up feeling unrefreshed, daytime sleepiness, decreased memory and consolidation, and sometimes morning headaches. In addition, the patient’s relative can provide valuable information regarding the patients’ sleep breathing events, daytime sleepiness, significant mood changes and sleeping habits.

  • Unexplained daytime sleepiness
  • Restless sleep
  • Loud snoring and witnessed apnoea
  • Night sweats
  • Nocturia
  • Night time choking episodes
  • Waking up with a racing heart rate
  • Anxiety and depression and other mood changes
  • Memory loss
  • Low libido
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Awakening with sore throat and dry mouth
  • Psychological and social damage to sufferers
  • Congested upper airway
  • Reflux

An indication that sleep is being fragmented by obstructive events is to ask how often the individual uses the bathroom during the night. When the body is aroused from sleep, the common assumption is that this arousal is caused by a full bladder, and they get up to use the bathroom. It is not uncommon for individuals with OSA to experience up to ten visits to the bathroom during the night.

Each patient will present with different symptoms, and patients cannot report the symptoms that occur during sleep (for example witnessed apnoeas). There may also be symptoms that are not recognised as symptoms or are under-reported by the patient. This is why it is important to ask the partner or close relative about symptoms of the patient (where appropriate). If the patient does not have a bed partner, it may be useful to ask the patient to record themselves sleeping.

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