5 Signs You May be Suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is one of the most prevalent sleep disorders in existence. However, it is estimated that of the 22 million adults that are afflicted, over 80% of cases go undiagnosed — which is troublesome considering the array underlying health problems that sleep apnea can cause.
Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common of the sleep apneas, appearing in 4% of males and 2% of females worldwide, and the form that our office specializes in treating. OSA is caused by an obstruction of the upper airway (usually muscle, tissue, or the tongue) that causes breathing problems during sleep, as well as lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood. Those afflicted may not even be aware that they have OSA — especially if they sleep alone — and often attribute the multitude of other issues to something else.
Here are 5 signs that you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
Snoring is caused by a blocked air passage during sleep. Many patients aren’t even aware that they snore at all unless their attention has been brought to it by a bed partner. The presence of snoring doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has sleep apnea, and having sleep apnea doesn’t always mean that the person snores. However, the likelihood of sleep apnea being present in those that do snore is higher.
Pauses in breathing while falling asleep
During apnea, air is unable to proceed past the internal obstruction, which reduces blood flow to the brain. In order to compensate, the body sends a signal to the brain that it needs to breathe. The brain then wakes up, and causes the patient to choking, wheezing, or gasping sound.
Once the body gets the breath it needs, the patient goes back to sleep and the process can start over again. This event can occur anywhere from 5 times to 100 times throughout the course of the night. The ramifications of this due to a severe case of sleep apnea can impact a multitude of areas of life for the afflicted.
A commonly overlooked symptom of OSA is an unending feeling of fatigue. While it may seem to OSA patients that they’re getting a full-night’s rest because they were in bed for 8 hours, pauses in the patient’s breathing can cause them to awaken in the night and therefore compromising their quality of rest, resulting in a condition called excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).
Symptoms of EDS include a lack of energy, the need for frequent naps, difficulties in concentration, and trouble waking up in the mornings. EDS can contribute to difficulty with communication and production at work.
Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. As the ability to breathe dissipates, oxygen naturally struggles to make it to the brain as opposed to an unafflicted sleeper. Decreased oxygen levels can lead to the widening of blood vessels in the brain, causing vascular headaches. This is one of the most-overlooked symptoms of OSA.
Not getting a regular night of rest can have psychological impacts as well. A lack of sleep can cause fluctuations in mood, making sufferers prone to anxiety and paranoia, as well as short-tempered and in severe cases, depressed.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be a sign of OSA. Contact our office to learn about what options we have for you. Don’t suffer through another sleepless night. Take back your quality of life today.