Obstructive Sleep Apnea Common in Down Syndrome

Studies by experts reveal that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also suffered by individuals with Down syndrome. However, the problems resulting from untreated OSA may not be noticed as complications of the sleep apnea because they may overlap with the appearance of Down syndrome. Some of the complications of untreated OSA may result in problems like cardiovascular disease, daytime sleepiness and impaired cognitive functioning.

"Patients with Down syndrome have a great deal of risk factors for OSA (based on their narrow mid-face, large tongue, floppy muscle tone, tendency towards being overweight, and thyroid disease). However, the fact that almost all of the subjects studied had OSA was a much higher prevalence than expected. It was surprising how severe the illness was, and how the OSA was unsuspected by their caregivers."

American Academy of Sleep Medicine shares that OSA is a breathing disorder which is sleep related. During OSA our airflow is absolutely cut short or reduced in spite of the effort we put to continue to breathe. It happens when during our sleep, muscles loosen up and the soft tissues in the back of the throat give way and obstruct the upper airway. Due to this, partial reduction in breathing (hypopneas) and absolute pauses (apneas) occur and sudden reductions in blood saturation can be generated. Most people who suffer from sleep apnea apparently snore loudly and daytime sleepiness is commonly experienced by them.

This article first appeared in issue #14 of Down Syndrome Amongst Us


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