Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

11 Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea

What Are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

What Are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is dangerous and can affect anyone. That’s why it’s worth knowing what are the warning signs of sleep apnea?

But what the heck is sleep apnea? Well, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interrupted breathing. If you suffer from this condition, you are likely to snore loudly and wake up tired despite getting a whole night’s sleep. 

While anyone can have the disorder, it’s more common in overweight, older men. Occurrences in women increase after menopause.

We’ll start by looking at the sleep apnea types.

Types of Sleep Apnea

As scary as it sounds, it also comes in different forms. There are two main types of sleep apnea, namely:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form. It occurs when muscles in the throat relax and collapse into the upper airway when you are asleep. As a result, your airway may become narrow or close up, which cuts off your air supply.

Breathing should be seamless and flawless even while you sleep. The blockage from the collapsed tissues sends you into apneic episodes throughout the night. It may feel like involuntarily holding your breath when sleeping.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is caused by your brain not sending the right signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. It can also be due to stroke, heart failure, or even sleeping at high altitudes. Sleeping in the mountains could pose more threats than encountering wild animals! 

The causes for this type of sleep apnea vary widely as it comes in different types as well. For example, a stroke or congestive heart failure causes Cheyne-Stokes breathing, while drug-induced apnea can develop with opioid use.    

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a mix of central and obstructive sleep apnea and is a possible consequence of treating obstructive sleep apnea.

What Are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea? 

Do you suspect you have sleep apnea? Your partner is more likely to point out any symptoms because of how they present. Here is what to look for when you can’t sleep easily. 

  1. Snoring is coupled with snorting, choking, or gasping sounds in your sleep. 
  2. You may feel tired and sleepy during the day.
  3. Frequently and suddenly waking up at night.
  4. Restless sleep.
  5. You may have a sore throat or dry mouth when you wake up.
  6. A hard time concentrating, forgetfulness, and irritability. 
  7. You may notice yourself urinating more often at night.
  8. Headaches, especially in the morning
  9. Sweating at night
  10. Issues with your mood like anxiety or depression
  11. Sexual dysfunction
Headaches, especially in the morning
what are the warning signs of sleep apnea? – Headaches, especially in the morning

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

It can be if left unattended. The snoring may be a nuisance, but there’s more to it. For example, sleep apnea can trigger or exacerbate existing health conditions, making your life more difficult.

  • Heart Disease

With this condition, your body’s natural breathing mechanism is disrupted. As a result, it can cause low oxygen uptake that leads to heart problems.  

  • High Blood Pressure

Suddenly waking up from the threat of choking is stressful. Your hormones try to make things right, but this also affects your blood pressure. 

If you already have high blood pressure, sleep apnea could worsen it. Going on treatment could improve it.

  • Depression

Poor sleep patterns can cause mood disorders and depression. Depression can cause insomnia, creating an unending cycle around a lack of peaceful sleep.

  • Type 2 Diabetes

Getting minimal sleep affects how your body utilizes insulin. This can increase your chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

  • Weight Gain

Sleep apnea can trigger a hormone, ghrelin, that pushes you to crave carbs and sweets. Since you are often tired from lack of sleep and proper rest, your body may not have enough energy to digest food properly. These two situations can trigger weight gain.  

. Daytime Sleepiness

Every activity you do during the day is affected. Interaction with other people is hampered, your mood and concentration are also affected. You can easily fall asleep at the wheel and cause accidents.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea 

If a doctor suspects sleep apnea, the diagnosis begins with evaluating your sleep patterns. 

With the aid of a sleep study, known as a polysomnogram (PSG), the doctor checks different body functions, breathing patterns, heart rate, brain electrical activity, air, and blood oxygen levels as you sleep. The test is conducted in a sleep lab.

The doctor can also propose a sleep apnea test at home. It is a sleep study conducted at home. The aim is the same, but it looks at fewer body functions. A home test is only recommended for patients already showing significant medical issues like heart failure.

Now that we know what are the warning signs of sleep apnea, the next question is:

Is There Treatment for Sleep Apnea?

There are several avenues for sleep apnea treatment. In cases that aren’t severe, doctors recommend conservative approaches such as: 

  • Losing weight

Weight loss reduces fat deposits, reducing the throat, neck, and tongue airway. Reduced abdominal fat increases lung capacity and makes it less likely for the airway to collapse.  

  • Managing stress levels 

Keeping stress in check will help regulate your hormones and keep your body functioning normally. 

  • Exercise

Working out helps with weight loss. It also helps you sleep soundly. 

Working out helps with weight loss. It also helps you sleep soundly.
Working out helps with weight loss. It also helps you sleep soundly.
  • Staying away from alcohol and caffeine

These two affect muscle tone in the throat, affecting airflow. Your throat muscles are more likely to collapse. Quitting smoking should also make a difference since smoking causes throat inflammation, reducing the airway.  

  • Improving sleep habits

You can adjust your sleeping position and avoid sleeping on your back. Take this a notch higher by including specific devices like a sleep apnea pillow, a weighted blanket, or even a tennis ball.

Another treatment option is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The patient wears a mask covering both the nose and mouth or only the nose. The machine then blows air into their airway, keeping it open as they sleep. 

Nerve stimulation devices can keep track of breathing patterns and communicate with the nerves tasked with controlling all the muscles in charge of breathing. The doctor implants the device into the chest like a pacemaker. It is a minor surgery and shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. 

In other instances, surgery may be necessary. They include:

  • A tonsillectomy. It removes any obstruction from tonsillar tissue at the back of the throat.
  • A somnoplasty. It reduces soft tissue in the upper region of the airway.
  • Nasal surgery removes blockages in the nose.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) removes soft tissue on the palate and back of the throat for a larger airway.
  • A maxillary/mandibular advancement surgery corrects facial abnormalities or throat obstructions causing or contributing to obstructive sleep apnea. 

The doctor will advise which of these approaches will help you rest well while sleeping.

What Happens If Sleep Apnea Remains Untreated?

Fatigue, headaches, moodiness, terrible snoring, and a sore throat will become a regular feature in your life. Unfortunately, it can also trigger more severe conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

All these affect your quality of life and put unnecessary strain on your body. Untreated sleep apnea reduces life expectancy by several years since it raises your risk of death by 17%. 

With all the available solutions, sleeping soundly should not be as elusive as it currently may be.  

Final Word

Don’t let sleep apnea get the better of you. With the intervention of a good doctor, you should be able to go to bed with minimal disturbance to your sleep schedule, your health, and your partner. Then, you can have a great night again.




Get the best of BetterNightSleep Never miss content that may improve your life