Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

How do I know that I have Sleep Apnea?

It may be challenging to identify if you are suffering from sleep apnea, as you cannot keep track of your actions during sleep. Though there are many signs and symptoms that help to determine your risk for sleep apnea, there are some important questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do you have trouble concentrating during the day due to excess sleepiness?
  • Are you a male with a neck size greater than 17 inches or a female with a neck size greater than 16 inches?
  • Have you ever been treated for high blood pressure?
  • Do you snore most nights? Is your snoring loud?
  • Has anyone told you that you have interrupted breathing at night?
  • Are you often sleepy or fall asleep when driving, watching TV, or sitting and reading?

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Snoring - Snoring is a result of the airway being partially blocked, causing air to pass through the airway faster, which in turn causes the soft tissues of the uvula and soft palate to vibrate, creating a sound we call snoring. In some cases, the sound may be soft, but in most cases, it is loud and unpleasant. Snoring is common problem in both male and females and can affect people of all ages. 90 million American adults currently experience snoring when they sleep, and about one-half of people who snore loudly have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Some causes of snoring may include: sleeping on your back, being overweight, mouth breathing during sleep, or having a cold or being congested. Snoring may increase as you get older, if you have a small airway, after menopause, or if you are a male. Most times, you are unaware of your snoring at night and may be told by your partner that it is occurring.

Unintentionally falling asleep during the day - Falling asleep when driving, watching TV, or reading can be a sign of Sleep Apnea.

Daytime fatigue or daytime tiredness - Common signs of excessive daytime sleepiness include difficulty waking in the morning, needing to take frequent naps, a general lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating around others. This occurs because your body is waking up numerous times throughout the night, though you may not be conscious of each awakening. You may also experience coughing, choking, or gasping during sleep, causing you to awaken.

Awakened during sleep by coughing, chocking or gasping - Obstructive sleep apnea may cause the muscles in your throat to become so relaxed that your air way becomes blocked. As a result, some wake up abruptly gasping for air or feel like they’re choking, while others may not even realize they’re coughing or choking while asleep.

Morning headaches - Morning headaches stem from the loss of oxygen in your bloodstream that flows to your brain because of the irregular breathing at night.

Elevated blood pressure - Sleep apnea and high blood pressure work together as a dangerous pair. Approximately 30-50% of patients with high blood pressure also suffer from sleep apnea. Both sleep apnea and high blood pressure have been linked to significantly increase risks for stroke and heart attack.

Cardiovascular disease - As a result of not being able to breathe, your body has difficulty sending oxygen to the heart and brain, causing your blood pressure to increase. If you suffer from sleep apnea, the chances of you developing heart disease increases significantly.

Example of Obstructed Airway in Sleep Apnea