The best way to protect yourself from developing Sleep Apnea is to be well-informed on the topic. Around ninety percent of the people who suffer from apneas during the night have not yet been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. It is a common disorder that is plaguing millions of people all over the planet, but the majority of victims who experience it have no clue!
Having a thorough knowledge of Sleep Apnea symptoms, and understanding how to notice them, is the first step on the road to recognizing the disorder and seeking adequate treatment.
Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms in Adults:
- Snoring: Snoring is by far the most common and easily recognizable symptom of Sleep Apnea. When the muscles in the upper part of the throat become too lax, or when the supportive muscles of the neck and throat fail to support the weight of the airway, the tissues in the throat have a tendency to touch each other. When this happens, the natural passage in the upper airway becomes smaller. Minor obstructions like this cause the laryngeal muscles to rub against each other and vibrate. The vibrations are absolutely audible and create the snoring sound that many people are plagued with throughout the night.
- Although snoring is a common indicator of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it can be hard to identify yourself. Loud, disruptive snoring fits are usually reported by the people closest to you, especially in patients with bedmates.
- Noticeable Breaks in Breathing: Sleep Apnea is classified as the cessation or stopping of airflow. As a result, people who suffer with the sleeping disorder naturally suffer from inconsistent breathing patterns. There is a specific breathing pattern for each of the three types of apnea. Breathing stops at some point in every cycle and is a sure-fire sign of apnea.
- Like snoring, breath interruption is one of the most consistent symptoms of Sleep Apnea and can be difficult to recognize yourself.
- Morning Headaches: Many victims of Sleep Apnea report moderate to severe headache early in the morning, often immediately upon wakening. Studies have shown that apnea patients who reported headaches in the morning experienced lower levels of oxygen saturation in the body while they were sleeping. Although morning headaches are not considered a “specific” symptom of the sleeping disorder, many Sleep Apnea sufferers share the problem.
- Exhaustion during Waking Hours: Almost all of the people who experience apneas during sleep report feelings of extreme exhaustion during the day. Daytime sleepiness can be caused by disruption of sleep during the night. Daytime sleepiness is a great indicator of Sleep Apnea; it is usually the first symptom noticed by undiagnosed sufferers. People with Hypersomnia have trouble waking up and getting out of bed.
- Suddenly Falling Asleep: In accordance with daytime sleepiness, people who suffer from the interruption of apneas have a tendency to fall asleep in the middle of the day. Some apnea sufferers experience intense and uncontrollable desire to sleep periodically throughout the day; they take multiple miniature-naps during waking hours. People with severe daytime sleepiness often fall asleep suddenly during the day. There is no conscientious decision to go to sleep in these extreme cases; the body just takes over and shuts down. Falling asleep without warning can be extremely dangerous and disruptive in daily life.
- Problems with Concentration: Apnea sufferers often have difficulty concentrating or staying focused throughout the day because of insufficient sleep. This can cause serious problems at home and in the work environment. Sleep deprivation caused by apneas can make the simplest daily tasks difficult to complete and dangerous.
- Accident Prone: People who have trouble staying awake or focusing during the day are much more prone to accidents. Tasks like driving and operating machinery become complicated and dangerous when there is a chance of suddenly falling asleep. Not being able to concentrate on a simple task extends the time it will take you to complete it. Poor concentration also lowers the chance of successfully completing the task, and makes you a safety hazard to yourself and others around you.
- Memory Problems: During sleep, the brain processes all of the information that is taken in throughout the day. The brain takes your memories, skills, and emotions and organizes them while you are asleep. A process called compilation takes place as well; the brain rearranges memories and information throughout the day and finds new ways to interpret it. Compilation helps the brain remember skills that were learned and information that was received throughout the day. When sleep is disrupted, the brain is not able to adequately process the information and it becomes difficult to recall memories or remember new information.
- Waking Up in The Middle of the Night: A lot of people with Sleep Apnea wake up repeatedly during the night because they are gasping or choking for air. When an apnea occurs, the body struggles to get oxygen. There are other factors, in addition to waking up out of breath, linked to sleeping disorder that affect a patient’s quality of sleep.
- Changing Positions: Airway obstruction is often caused by the positioning of the airway. OSA patients tend to find themselves “tossing and turning” all night in an effort to breathe easier. Unfortunately, constantly shifting your body to breathe does not leave you with much time at night for sleeping.
- Disorientation: A large portion of Sleep Apnea patients report waking up suddenly in a disoriented state; they are not sure what caused them to suddenly become awake, or why they feel disoriented. Sweating and heavy breathing usually accompany a disoriented awakening.
- Heart Problems: Sleeping disorders, especially Sleep Apnea, put a lot of extra stress on the heart. During an episode of apnea, the heart has to work in overtime to attempt to support the needs of the failing respiratory system.
- Pulmonary Hypertension: Sleep Apnea causes the levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol, to rise during sleep. In addition, when apneas occur, blood oxygen levels are lowered. These two distinctive changes can cause high blood pressure, formally Pulmonary Hypertension, in patients.
- Heart Disease: There is a two-way connection between Heart Disease and Sleep Apnea; each individual problem can lead to the other. When stress is placed on the heart as a result of poor sleep and apneas, the body produces reactive proteins that negatively affect the functioning of the organ. The reactive proteins are known to be inflammatory proteins, and when they combine with other substances in the body, active reflection inflammation of the heart occurs. Inflammatory proteins are a leading cause of heart disease.
- Swelling of the Legs: In severe cases of Sleep Apnea, patients often complain of swelling and discomfort in the legs.
Dry Mouth and Sore Throat: Waking up with repeatedly with an excessively dry mouth or sore throat is a commonly overlooked warning sign of apnea. Dry mouth occurs in apnea patients as a result of excessive and abnormal movement of the mouth, neck, and facial muscles during an apnea episode. Sore throats often indicate OSA; it is a common result of snoring and choking.