Medicine

February 3rd, 2021

Obstructive sleep apnea

Clinicals - History

Daytime sleepiness

This is a common and important symptom, as untreated OSA can lead to accidents due to extreme daytime sleepiness.


This is due to the interrupted sleep patterns of these patients resulting in non-restorative sleep.

Loud snoring

Patients may be blissfully unaware of this important symptom; it often has to be elicited from their partner or family members.


This is due to the obstruction of airflow during sleep that is caused by the recurrent collapse of the velopharyngeal or oropharyngeal airway.

Apneic episodes during sleep

The patient's partners and family members may complain of cessation of breathing during sleep. This may trigger awakening with sudden gasping.


This too is because of airflow obstruction during sleep.

Male gender

Male gender increases the risk of OSA. The cause for this is not entirely clear but is thought to be due to anatomical reasons.

Morning headaches

Dull, holocephalic headaches on waking are a recognized symptom of OSA. The exact cause for this is unclear. Potential etiologies include night-time hypercapnia with vasodilation; an increase in intracranial pressure; and/or sleep disturbances.

Cognitive impairment

OSA can impact attention, memory, visuospatial function, and executive function. The exact cause for this is unclear.

Mood changes

There is an association between OSA and depression. The exact cause for this relationship is unclear, but is thought to be due to fragmented sleep.

Family history

There may be a genetic predisposition to OSA through inherited craniofacial structure abnormalities.

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