We’ve talked in the past about how serious sleep apnea can be. We’ve also discussed how the disease continues to be woefully undiagnosed
in the majority of potential patients, and increasing awareness is one of our main goals on our blog. If untreated, patients with sleep apnea are at an increased risk for things such as heart disease and diabetes, while also being less effective with day to day activities due to lack of sleep. I want to discuss some of the signs of sleep apnea, and if you’re suffering from any of these, we recommend that you talk to your primary healthcare physician and seek a sleep study as soon as possible.
One of the biggest indicators of sleep apnea is snoring. You might hear from your friends or loved ones that you are an unusually loud snorer at night, and that when you’re breathing in and out it’s almost like your throat is closed. If you have sleep apnea, there’s a collapse going on in the throat, which can lead to increased sound decibels while you sleep. Not only is this an indicator for sleep apnea, but it probably keeps your bed partner, roommates, or family members who share your house awake at night. Not everybody who snores has sleep apnea, and not everybody with sleep apnea snores, but have your friends or loved ones listen closely to you while you sleep, and if they recommend you ask your doctor, do it!
If you wake up with a throat that is either extremely sore or very dry, it’s possible you have sleep apnea. Keeping your mouth open throughout the night can lead to your throat drying out, causing some discomfort in the morning. It’s also possible that your throat can dry out even if you’re only breathing through your nose. If diagnosed, we recommend using a heated humidifier and potentially a heated tube while wearing your CPAP machine
, which will help eliminate this effect by warming the air that comes through your tube.
Being tired throughout the day, or lacking energy to accomplish even the simplest of tasks isn’t
just a sign of sleep apnea, it can have huge effects on your performance at work or school. If you’re one of those few who gets the recommended eight hours, yet still are having trouble performing, it’s possible you’re suffering from sleep apnea. Going to bed earlier just so you can sleep longer might not be the effect, as most likely you are waking up several times throughout the night without even noticing, which is having huge effects on your sleep schedule. Getting eight hours of sleep is not going to cut it if you’re not actually sleeping for the full eight hours! Struggling to be effective with daily activities is going to have negative impacts on your life and career, so not only should you consult your doctor and get a sleep study done for your long term health, you should do it to further your career!
Lack of sleep can also cause morning headaches that some might mistake for migraines. While headaches can be caused by numerous different things, if you’re suffering from snoring or lack
of sleep and always tired, while experiencing headaches, it’s time to get tested for sleep apnea. One of the biggest issues we encounter is the lack of knowledge by the professionals. If you find this page and are thinking about going to your doctor, mention that you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, as it might be time to get yourself tested. The only true test will be a sleep study, whether done in your own home through an at home test, or going to a sleep study center, just because you may be suffering from one of the following does not mean you definitely have sleep apnea, there are other causes to all of these things, so make sure you get properly tested before trying to purchase and use a CPAP machine, as the therapy may not be what you need!
I am going to bullet some of the other potential signs of sleep apnea, and I will include the ones I have already mentioned, so you can get a thorough list of items without having to read through hundreds of my words!
- Loud snoring, your friends and loved ones may say it sounds like you’re struggling to breath
- Having an extremely dry or uncomfortably sore throat in the morning after sleep
- Waking up during the night because you’re choking or gasping for air
- Lack of energy during the day
- Falling asleep while driving or simply watching TV
- Headaches in the morning
- Restless sleep
- Forgetting things, having severe mood changes, and even a decreased interest in sex
All of these things can be found on WebMD’s page about sleep apnea. You can also find links to side effects of sleep apnea, and I have written about those before, but again some of the more serious ones include the following:
- Heart disease which can lead to a heart attack, see Reggie White
- High blood pressure
If you believe you’re suffering from any or all of the above, please seek treatment immediately so we can continue to fight this disease, and continue to make sure that the roughly 80 percent of undiagnosed patients can get the proper information from their doctors and start sleeping better!