Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder that is characterized by the repeated cessation of breathing during sleep. The symptoms of sleep apnea can vary from person to person, but some common signs to watch out for include:
Loud snoring: Snoring is caused by the vibration of the airway due to the partial obstruction of the airway during sleep. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly and frequently, as their airway becomes completely blocked multiple times throughout the night.
Waking up gasping for air: Sleep apnea is characterized by episodes of stopped breathing during sleep, which can cause the person to wake up gasping for air. This can happen several times throughout the night and can lead to a fragmented sleep pattern.
Excessive daytime sleepiness: Sleep apnea can cause extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day due to the repeated disruptions in sleep. This can lead to difficulty staying awake during the day, including while driving or working.
Difficulty concentrating: The lack of restful sleep due to sleep apnea can lead to difficulty concentrating and impair cognitive function.
Morning headaches: The repeated episodes of stopped breathing during sleep can lead to a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood, which can cause headaches upon waking.
Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking: The position of the tongue and jaw during sleep can cause the airway to become partially blocked, leading to dry mouth or a sore throat upon waking.
Restless sleep: Sleep apnea can cause people to toss and turn in bed, leading to a restless and unrefreshing sleep.
Waking up with a choking or coughing sensation: The repeated episodes of stopped breathing can cause the person to wake up with a choking or coughing sensation.
High blood pressure: Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure.
Nighttime sweating: The body may compensate for the lack of oxygen during sleep apnea episodes by increasing the heart rate and sweating, leading to nighttime sweating.
If you think you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, it is important to see a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis. Treatment for sleep apnea may include the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, lifestyle changes, or surgery.
It is also important to address any underlying causes of sleep apnea, such as obesity or smoking, as these can exacerbate the condition. Getting proper treatment for sleep apnea can help improve the quality of your sleep and overall health.