Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea is a major health concern for a large portion of the American population. Estimates suggest that around 22 million people suffer from the disorder and that 80% of cases are undiagnosed. Millions of people are at risk from a sleep apnea and they do not even realize they have it. When untreated, the disorder can result in a variety of medical issues, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, other cardiovascular issues, and even death.

Anyone can be at risk for sleep apnea, though it is more common in overweight men over 40 than other members of the population. So what is sleep apnea? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute describes it as follows:

Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.”

It’s a dangerous condition, and one that is difficult to diagnose. People who suffer from sleep apnea are generally unaware of the pauses in breathing during sleep – and it has to be identified through other means. There are a few common symptoms of sleep apnea that everyone be aware of, take a look:

  • Loud snoring – Of course this will have to be observed by others, but it is one of the main symptoms of apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring is deemed loud if it is at volumes that disturb others in your vicinity. If you’ve been alerted about loud snoring in the past, you may want to get checked for sleep apnea.
  • Frequent waking – Those who suffer from sleep apnea often find themselves waking up in the middle of the night – frequently with a choke or gasp. The shortness of breath from apnea shocks people out of sleep. Waking up feeling out of breath is one of the primary signs of sleep apnea.
  • Tired/loss of energy during the day – People with sleep apnea do not get good sleep. They often feel sluggish and tired throughout the day. It puts them at risks when performing tasks like driving or operating heavy machinery at work. If you’ve been suffering from an extreme lack of energy, you may want to look into sleep apnea.
  • Morning headaches – Another common sign of sleep apnea is waking up in the morning with a headache. If you notice this happening frequently, it may be a warning sign.

Suffering from any of these symptoms means it’s possible you may have sleep apnea, and visiting a doctor for an evaluation is a wise idea. However, identifying the symptoms can be difficult, especially if you live alone. Let’s go over a few of the risk factors for sleep apnea as well:

  • Weight – If you’re overweight, you are much more likely to suffer from obstruction related sleep apnea. It’s estimated being obese makes sleep apnea 3 to 4 times more likely, and more than half the patients with apnea are overweight. In addition, having a thicker neck (over 17 inches or 43 cm) greatly increases risk factor as well.
  • Smoking – People who smoke or have smoked in the past are 3 times as likely as non-smokers to develop sleep apnea. It swells throat tissue and increasing mucus formation, negatively impacting throat muscles and allowing apnea to develop. Quitting smoking can greatly reduce your risk factor.

Fortunately, there are treatments for sleep apnea. The doctors at Cairn Dental are specially trained in treating sleep apnea[link to sleep apnea page] and have over 50 years combined experience helping patients who suffer from the condition. If you’re concerned that you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, reach out today.