The Three Main Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
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The Three Main Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Think you might be suffering from sleep apnea? Unlike most conditions, it can be difficult to know that you are suffering from sleep apnea because you are—well, asleep—while it is happening. Luckily, there are some other tell-tale signs of sleep apnea you can recognize that happen throughout the day as well. If you feel as if you or your partner may be suffering from sleep apnea, this article is for you. Keep reading to learn more about sleep apnea, all of the symptoms that sleep apnea sufferers have, and what the three main hallmark symptoms of sleep apnea are.
What is Sleep Apnea?
According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea is a type of sleep-related breathing disorder, a group of sleep disorders characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep.
People with sleep apnea repeatedly have reductions or pauses in breathing for brief periods while they sleep. Although these lapses cause a person to awaken periodically and reduce sleep quality, sleepers may not fully wake up and remain unaware that their nighttime breathing is abnormal.
There are several types of sleep apnea, categorized by the cause of breathing disruptions. They include:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The most common form, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway has been blocked, such as from tissue relaxing in the back of the throat.
- Central Sleep Apnea: When central sleep apnea (CSA) is present, the brain does not send the proper signals to the muscles responsible for breathing.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea: Mixed, or complex, sleep apnea involves a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
What Are All The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
While there are a few main symptoms of sleep apnea that we will be discussing in this blog, that doesn’t mean that you will suffer from all of them. Everyone who suffers from sleep apnea may present different symptoms in different varying degrees. As such, it is important to understand all of the symptoms of sleep apnea so that you can see how many you relate to and speak to your doctor about them.
Frequent symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, also according to the Sleep Foundation, include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring that is often punctuated by gasping or choking sounds
- Headaches in the morning that may persist for several hours after waking up
- Dry mouth upon awakening
- Restless sleep with periods of wakefulness during the night
- Increased need to get up from bed to urinate
- Irritability or frustration
- Reduced focus
Main Symptom 1: Snoring
Are you known as someone who snores? Does your partner often bring up how loud your snoring is, nudge you to shift in the middle of the night, or do you frequently disturb other people’s sleep due to your snoring? Do you wake up with a sore throat, cough, or difficulty swallowing? Snoring isn’t just an annoyingly bad habit—it is a symptom of a much larger issue that needs to be taken very seriously.
Snoring is a response to a partially closed airway. It can be totally normal in some instances to temporarily snore, such as if you are sick or are having a sinus issue. However, ongoing and chronic snoring should be red-flagged as an issue. This is because snoring is a telltale sign of the excessive relaxation of soft tissues in the throat. It is estimated that one in three patients who snore are affected by obstructive sleep apnea.
Why Snoring Is Bad
When you snore, you are breathing through your mouth. Proper breathing is done through your nose because the nose acts as a filter to weed out toxins and give your lungs (and blood) healthy oxygen to use. When your nose airway becomes obstructed, your body goes into “survival mode” and breathes through the mouth.
Since there is no filter to weed out the bad toxins in your mouth, your body isn’t getting the best oxygen, and, in turn, you can start suffering some serious health issues because of it.
Some of the health issues that can stem from untreated snoring and sleep apnea include:
- Memory Loss
- Lack of Energy
- Drowsy Driving
- Excessive Stress
- Cardiovascular Strain
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Increased Risk for Accidents
- Weight Gain
- High Blood Pressure
Main Symptom 2: Daytime Sleepiness
Another one of the telltale symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness. Now, it is totally normal to feel drowsy during the day every once in a while. This is especially true if you stayed up too late the night before, woke up earlier than you usually do, had a busy day outside of your regular routine, or otherwise had a particularly stressful day. It happens to us all; however, having regular daytime sleepiness every single day should be seen as a cause for concern and as a symptom of sleep apnea.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I drink a lot of coffee, especially in the afternoon?
- Do I require naps every day?
- Do I have difficulty waking up or getting out of bed in the morning?
- Am I feeling sluggish and unmotivated throughout the day?
- Am I falling asleep at inappropriate times, such as while driving or during meals?
- Do I suffer from lapses in attention?
- Do I have difficulty remembering events throughout the day?
- Do I have difficulty concentrating?
- Am I irritable?
- Do I suddenly have poor performance in work or school activities?
Why Daytime Sleepiness Is Bad
What’s the big deal about feeling sluggish throughout the day and needing a lot coffee to function? There are some serious risks associated with excessive daytime sleepiness due to sleep apnea.
Being sleepy can have wide-ranging effects on health and daily life. Consequences of daytime sleepiness include:
- Increased risk of car and work accidents
- Decreased work productivity or academic performance
- Worse quality of life
- Problems regulating mood and emotions
- Social and relationship problems
Daytime sleepiness can also cause a lot of unhealthy habits. When you’re too tired, you may reach for more sugary foods and coffee to keep you going, which can cause weight gain and other health issues. You may also be too tired to cook healthy meals, which has you ordering takeout regularly or opting for generally unhealthy food out of ease and convenience.
Main Symptom 3: Weight Gain
Another main symptom of sleep apnea includes weight gain. There are many reasons that people who suffer from sleep apnea will gain weight. One of the main reasons is due to the stopping and starting of breathing that sleep apnea is well known for.
As your body works to restart breathing after it has stopped, it can wake you up and disrupt your deep sleep patterns. This can leave you feeling tired throughout the day. In addition, the period of time in which your body has stopped breathing causes a lack of oxygen to the brain and bloodstream, which can lead to more health issues.
In addition, your body requires sleep in order to recharge. The less oxygen you are receiving means you are less able to burn calories during the day. If your body is not able to fully rest and recharge, losing weight is extremely difficult.
As mentioned earlier in this blog, daytime sleepiness can cause you to reach for sugary drinks or foods to help keep your energy levels up. In addition, exercise is often put on the back burner due to a lack of energy. Combining extra calories to stay alert with a lack of exercise puts many sleep apnea sufferers on the fast track to weight gain.
If you have unexplained weight gain, or if you are finding it very difficult to lose weight, it may be because you are suffering from sleep apnea. Getting your body the rest it needs as well as the correct amount of oxygen it needs will help you regulate your body and keep it healthy.
Why Weight Gain is Bad
Obesity can cause a host of health issues. According to the CDC, they include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Many types of cancer
- Low quality of life
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
What to Do About Sleep Apnea
There is something you can do about sleep apnea, and it does not need to involve a bulky, loud, uncomfortable CPAP machine. In fact, CPAP machines can be quite dangerous due to their recent recall.
The potential health risks involved with the CPAP recall include the polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam, which is used to reduce sound and vibration in these affected devices, may break down and potentially enter the device’s air pathway, according to the FDA. If this occurs, black debris from the foam or certain chemicals released into the device’s air pathway may be inhaled or swallowed by the person using the device. These issues can result in serious injury, which can be life-threatening, cause permanent impairment, and require medical intervention to prevent permanent damage.
Luckily, there is a better, less-invasive way to treat sleep apnea. Here’s how the process goes:
- The patient receives a sleep apnea diagnosis
- Dr. Gorman will talk about their symptoms, review their medical history, and may perform a scan utilizing state-of-the-art dental technology to evaluate possible obstructions
- Once he is familiar with the details of their condition, Dr. Gorman will create a personalized treatment plan with the goal of improving their nighttime breathing. This often involves the use of a custom-fitted dental appliance the patient will wear while sleeping.
The cause of your sleep apnea is the major indicator of how to treat it. CPAP machines are just a band-aid and do not treat the underlying cause. For example, if the patient’s sleep apnea is being caused by the tongue relaxing in the throat, a tongue-retaining device may be the ideal treatment for maintaining an open airway. Should an abnormal jaw position be causing breathing difficulties, Dr. Gorman may recommend a special device to correct this alignment, such as a mouthpiece or a device strapped around the head. Oral devices used to address sleep apnea are removable and typically resemble athletic mouthguards.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea with Gorman Health and Wellness
Ready to move on from snoring, daytime sleepiness, weight gain, and more for good? Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.
Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.
“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.
For more information on Dr. Gorman, improving your sleep apnea, and decreasing your chances for dementia, contact us today.