Patients with OSA may not be aware that they have this problem, as they do not usually remember the waking times at night. It is often a sleeping partner or a parent of a child with OSA that is concerned about the loud snoring and the recurring episodes of apnoeas that they notice. One or more of the following also commonly occur:
Loud Snoring and
Decreased Concentration and
Morning Headaches and Irritability during the day
Daytime Sleepiness and poor concentration
Some people with OSA find that they get up to pass urine frequently during the night. People with untreated OSA also have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. People with untreated OSA may also have an increased risk of developing problems with blood sugar regulation.
Old age is often accompanied by muscular and neurological loss of muscle tone of the upper airway. Decreased muscle tone is also temporarily caused by chemical depressants; alcoholic drinks and sedative medications being the most common. Permanent premature muscular tonal loss in the upper airway may be precipitated by traumatic brain injury, neuromuscular disorders, or poor adherence to chemical and or speech-therapy treatments.
Individuals with decreased muscle tone, increased soft tissue around the airway, and structural features that give rise to a narrowed airway are at high risk for OSA. Men, in which the anatomy is typified by increased mass in the torso and neck, are at increased risk of developing sleep apnoea, especially through middle age and later. Women suffer typically less frequently and to a lesser degree than do men, owing partially to physiology, but possibly also to differential levels of progesterone. Prevalence in post-menopausal women approaches that of men in the same age range. Women are at greater risk for developing OSA during pregnancy.
OSA also appears to have a genetic component; those with a family history of it are more likely to develop it themselves. Lifestyle factors such as smoking may also increase the chances of developing OSA as the chemical irritants in smoke tend to inflame the soft tissue of the upper airway and promote fluid retention, both of which can result in narrowing of the upper airway. An individual may also experience or exacerbate OSA with the consumption of alcohol, sedatives, or any other medication that increases sleepiness as most of these drugs are also muscle relaxants.