Most Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms

sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea is a health condition where your breathing pauses several times during sleep. High risk factors for developing this condition include obesity, hypertension, hereditary lines, or people with thicker necks (17”+ circumference). Obstruction in the airway passages is typically caused by excessive tissue and muscle. The most common form of treatment is represented by the CPAP use- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure devices.

The CPAP helps keeping the airways open through a constant burst of air. The air is at a set pressure, which is prescribed by your doctor. The doctor will determine the required amount of pressure needed to maintain the airways open, thus preventing collapsing of the airways. Patients who use CPAP treatment for prolonged periods will also experience an improvement in the main signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. Let’s check out the most common sleep apnea symptoms.

The exact type of sleep apnea might be difficult to determine, mainly because the signs and symptoms often times overlap. However, the most common signs of Central and Obstructive Sleep Apnea include the following:

  • Excessively loud snoring- even more prominent in the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The loud snoring is not linked with excessive tiredness when sleep apnea is present.
  • Breathing cessation- breathing stops for a few seconds and even up to 10+ seconds in cases of more severe apnea
  • Shortness of breath, abrupt awakenings – these are more common signs and symptoms for Central Sleep Apnea
  • Dry mouth and sore throat- this happens because sleep apnea patients sleep with their mouth open.
  • Excessive migraines- morning headaches- these happen because the patient could not get enough quality deep sleep (REM sleep)
  • Concentration problems
  • Insomnia- the patient finds it extremely difficult to stay asleep/ or to fall asleep
  • Feelings of irritability / low mood during the day

Types of Apneas

There are three types of Apneas which can be diagnosed:

  1. OSA- Obstructive Sleep Apnea- one of the most common types of Apnea. OSA typically happens when the muscles in your throat relax
  2. CSA – Central Sleep Apnea- CSA happens when the brain is incapable of sending the right signal to your muscles that it is time to take a breath.
  3. Complex Sleep Apnea- the type of disorder when the patient experiences signs and symptoms of both OSA and CSA

It is extremely important to see your doctor if you consider that you might struggle with sleep apnea issues. With the help of the right treatment, your symptoms can become less frequent and you can avoid further health problems (such as heart complications for example).

OSA Risk factors

Obese patients are 5 times more exposed to developing sleep apnea than patients with a normal BMI. In such cases, your breathing is obstructed by the fatty tissues around the soft palate and your throat. Sometimes losing significant weight will improve the symptoms. Then, people who have thicker than regular necks may also struggle with more narrow airways. Men with a neck circumference of 17” (43cm) or more are at risk of developing sleep apnea. Also, women with a neck circumference of 15”+ inches (38cm) are more likely to develop sleep apnea.

According to research, men are twice more exposed to developing Sleep Apnea than women, and being middle-aged is also a risk factor. Typically, the use of alcohol or tranquilizers will also relax your throat muscles, so you are mostly exposed to developing Apnea conditions. Smokers of course are at higher risk of developing the condition because smoking increases inflammation and also fluid retention in the upper airways. Research suggests that people who give up smoking will also experience an improvement in the quality of their sleep after some time.

Central Sleep Apnea is a more complex disorder than OSA, and some of the risk factors include:

  • Heart complications- patients with congestive heart failure are at higher risk of developing CSA
  • Taking pain medications- narcotic pain medications such as opioids for example increase the risk of CSA (especially methadone)
  • Stroke patients- those who have experienced a stroke are at very high risk of developing CSA or Complex Sleep Apnea (with symptoms from, both OSA and CSA)

There are several complications that may arise from Sleep Apnea. These include excessive daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, low libido, mood swings followed by anxiety or depression. Don’t let Sleep Apnea take control of your life and interfere with your everyday well-being. Sleep Apnea can be treated with the help of a CPAP or APAP. Following a sleep test, your doctor will prescribe the right course of treatment. He will prescribe the most efficient air pressure that will maintain your airways open, and then you can enjoy a quality, restful night of sleep. CPAP’s can be purchased only based on medical prescription.