If you snore loudly or nod off during the day, you might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects millions of people and is characterized by pauses in breathing while asleep—like during snoring or sleeping on your back—and can cause headaches and other symptoms when left untreated. If you think you have this issue, here are some sleep apnea signs to look out for.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
In addition to snoring and daytime sleepiness, you may also experience the following signs of sleep apnea:
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Difficulty remembering things.
- Difficulty completing tasks like reading and writing (for example, it takes longer for you to write a report).
Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
Now that we’re all familiar with the symptoms of sleep apnea, let’s discuss its initial warning signs.
Sleep apnea in men occurs when your airway is blocked or obstructed while you’re asleep. When this happens, you don’t get enough oxygen to your brain and body, which causes fatigue and grogginess in the morning. If ignored and left untreated, this condition can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. Some warning signs of sleep apnea include:
- As you sleep, you may hear snoring or loud breathing.
- Sleeping with frequent pauses in breathing during the night (a condition called hypopnea).
- Headaches early in the morning.
If you suspect you’re experiencing any of these sleep apnea symptoms, it is imperative that you consult a doctor for a diagnosis.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Snoring is the main sign of sleep apnea, caused by the vibrating soft tissues in your throat. Sleep apnea is caused by a range of factors, including:
- A deviated septum (a slight change in your nose’s shape).
- An enlarged tongue or tonsils.
- A jaw that’s too large for your face.
Related: The Actual Power Nap
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t send signals to your airway muscles to keep them open during sleep. This can soon become complex sleep apnea if it persists for more than 5 hours.
Causes of central sleep apnea
- Low oxygen levels in your blood (hypoxia).
- Narrowing of your airways (stenosis).
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is when breathing becomes blocked or interrupted during sleep, which causes the person to stop breathing. In children, this can lethal. OSA affects about 5 per cent of Americans and is most common in men between 50 and 80.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea
- Heavy snoring and loud breathing at night.
- Trouble sleeping or waking up many times during the night.
- Excessive daytime fatigue that does not go away once you get enough rest.
- Frequent headaches or other types of pain when you wake up from sleeping too long in one position.
- Feeling sleepy and groggy during the day even though you were asleep all night.
Morning headaches are a sign of sleep apnea. You may have heard that morning headache can be caused by stress, but they are one of the most common sleep apnea symptoms.
Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing while asleep and causes your brain to think that there’s still air in your body. Your brain tries to wake up from this false sense of security and sends signals into your throat, causing temporary constriction or blockage (that’s why mornings are so bad!). This causes severe congestion in the arteries surrounding your brain, which can cause an excess amount of blood flow straight into the blood vessels connected with migraines or tension headaches—a vicious cycle!
The good news is that many over-the-counter pain relievers also work well for treating migraines! But if those don’t help much, then it’s time for an appointment with a doctor specializing in diseases associated with sleep disorders like snoring/narcolepsy.
Sleep issues often go hand-in-hand with excessive daytime tiredness, chronic neck pain (due to improper positioning), and poor quality slumber patterns caused by obstructive breathing patterns occurring throughout the nighttime.
Related: New Treatment For Sleep Apnea
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
If you notice any of these symptoms, it may be time to see your doctor as soon as possible. Sleep apnea can lead to issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes and other serious health issues. Besides making you look tired throughout the day, it can also make you appear tired even if you are not. Crow’s feet are not your friend either.
There are many different treatments for sleep apnea in children. Some people use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device at night, so they don’t have to snore loudly while sleeping; some choose surgery; others take medication or both.
If none of those options works for you, there’s always home care: talking about your symptoms with your partner/partner’s family members/friends will help keep everyone up-to-date on what’s going on with you, so they know how best to support you during this challenging process.
Related: Consult with Sleep Specialist in Florida
There is much information about sleep apnea in women, but not a lot is honest. The research is not black and white. It’s messy. Getting your doctor at SleepRx to run a few tests if you experience any of the symptoms listed above is a good idea.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, your health is at risk, and your quality of life will also be affected. Preventing severe complications from occurring in the future is possible by taking good care of yourself right now.