According to a 2004 study published by the American Medical Association, one in five adults experiences some level of obstructive sleep apnea, making this condition the second most prevalent type of sleep disorder. With this disorder, an individual’s sleep is disrupted by involuntary pauses in breathing repeatedly throughout the night. People can be diagnosed with either obstructive sleep apnea or central sleep apnea. OSA, which is caused by the back throat muscles relaxing, is much more common than CSA. Continue reading to learn about four common symptoms of sleep apnea.
Common sleep apnea symptoms
Knowing common symptoms of sleep apnea can help an individual know when to visit a doctor. Without treatment, this sleep disorder can lead to a variety of health problems and interfere with one’s ability to concentrate and stay awake, increasing the risk of a motor or workplace accident.
One of the most prominent symptoms of sleep apnea is constant daytime sleepiness. Often, patients will awaken frequently throughout the night when breathing is disrupted but will quickly fall back asleep and forget the awakening ever happened. This interrupts the patient’s sleep cycle and prevents deep sleep. Many patients will report getting long hours of sleep at night but still feel fatigued throughout the day and may fall asleep during activities like trying to watch a movie or driving for long periods of time.
While heavy snoring is often an indicator of sleep apnea, not everyone with the disorder snores. Snoring is caused by the vibration that occurs when throat muscles relax during sleep, which causes the upper airway to narrow. Since OSA causes the back throat muscles to relax, snoring often happens as a result. Anyone who experiences frequent heavy snoring should consult a doctor.
Choking or gasping
If a patient is aroused in the middle of the night choking or gasping for air, sleep apnea is likely to blame. When the patient is unable to breathe due to a narrowing airway, the brain will signal the individual to wake up so the airway can reopen. While some patients might be aware of the awakening, others might quickly fall back asleep before realizing what happened. In this case, a partner might hear the patient snorting or choking throughout the night and realize there is a problem.
Frequently waking up with a headache is sometimes a sign the individual has sleep apnea. When the patient stops breathing while asleep, less oxygen is transported to the brain. This causes the patient to wake up with a headache. Most often, patients will report a tension headache.
If experiencing any or all of these four common symptoms, it is time to make a visit to the doctor. It is a good idea to keep track of reoccurring symptoms and let the doctor know all the details. Once a proper diagnosis is made, patients can receive treatment and finally get a good night’s rest.
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