The symptoms of sleep apnea are not always obvious to those who have obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, many sleep apnea sufferers are completely unaware they have sleep apnea and wake often during sleep. A sleeping partner is often the first person to notice obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the throat collapses during sleep. This may constrict or completely stop the flow of air through the throat and to the lungs. At this point, the individual may stop breathing for a minute or longer until the apnea sufferer gasps and airflow resumes.
Read: What is Sleep Apnea?
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea may include:
• Loud snoring: A person with sleep apnea may fall asleep quickly and begin snoring so loudly that it prevents others in the home from sleeping.
• Periods of quiet interrupt the snoring: When a loud snorer stops breathing, the snoring logically stops. While that may be comforting to sleeping partners or even people trying to sleep two or three bedrooms away from the snorer, long silences that follow snoring are often a clear indication of sleep apnea.
• Loud gasps following a period of quiet: Sleep apnea sufferers often awake with a loud snort or gasp as breathing resumes. This may or may not completely awaken the person with apnea. But it can be jarring, alarming and disruptive to a sleeping partner.
• Feeling lethargic and tired during the day: Someone with sleep apnea could awaken and fall back to sleep for a few seconds hundreds of times in an evening. In extreme cases, a patient may wake and return to sleep more than a hundred times in an hour. This disruptive sleep virtually ensures someone with sleep apnea rarely enjoys a restful night of sleep.
• Regular irritability: Lack of sleep often results in irritability and impatience. While it’s easy to blame irritability on stress or a “bad day” sleep apnea may be the real culprit at play.
• Feelings of sleepiness while working, driving, reading or watching TV: If you or someone you know is constantly napping, they may have sleep apnea. There is nothing wrong with a “power nap.” But people who get restful sleep don’t require power naps every time they relax.
• General forgetfulness or inability to focus: Whether someone has insomnia or sleep apnea, lack of sleep breaks down our abilities to think and reason effectively and may result in forgetting important events or finding it difficult to focus on tasks and bring them to completion.
• Headaches: For many people with sleep apnea, regular morning headaches that may be difficult to treat are relatively common.
Contact an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist for Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder and affects between 20 to 50-million Americans. More men than women have sleep apnea, and a small number of children suffer from the disorder. If you or a sleeping partner suspect you have sleep apnea, contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522. Our trained Utah ear, nose and throat doctors are expert at diagnosing and treating your symptoms.
Read: What is Sleep Apnea?
Read: How We Treat Sleep Apnea