In terms of serious illnesses, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Surprisingly, an estimated one in five (20%) adults have obstructive sleep apnea.
So what exactly is obstructive sleep apnea?
OSA is a partial or complete blockage (obstruction) of your airway (mouth/nose; throat) – that results in a period of time without breathing (apnea) during sleep. How serious is it? Well, that really depends on a lot of things. Some people suffer from chronic obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious sleep disorder. Other people suffer from a milder variety. But in any case, sleep apnea is something that ought to be taken seriously. It can affect more than just your sleep – it can affect your day-to-day life and wellbeing.
There are many obstructive sleep apnea symptoms to be aware of and if you (or your bed fellow!) are aware of any of these issues, then you need to act now. A few that stand out, in particular, are listed below:
#1 Loud snorer? That is one of the most common sleep apnea symptoms
First, let’s address snoring. There is quite a lot of misinformation getting around on the subject of snoring. And when it comes to sleep apnea, the facts can be blurred even more! So, we should take some time to set the record straight: not all people that snore have obstructive sleep apnea. However, most (not all) people with obstructive sleep apnea are snorers. Hence it is a very common symptom and well worth investigating a little further. So how can you work out if your snoring is a symptom of something sinister? Well, there are a few ways. The most conclusive way is, of course, to see a Specialist in the field! They will be able to assess your overall health (and the impact that poor sleeping patterns have on your health) to determine the whether the snoring is worth treating.
However, to assist you in developing awareness as to whether your snoring is damaging your health, there are a few tell-tale signs that may accompany higher risk snoring. The key is to look at your snoring in context. Do you experience any other symptoms of sleep apnea as well? If you do, then there is a higher likelihood that your snoring is related to sleep apnea. But what are the other symptoms? Read on to find out!
#2 Choking or gasping sounds during sleep might sound extreme, but they are also common sleep apnea symptoms
If you wake from sleep gasping for breath, then something is definitely awry. Could it be sleep apnea? To answer this question, you should really visit a Specialist. You can start by visiting your GP and discussing the issue. Choking or gasping in your sleep is almost always a result of sleep apnea. And not mild sleep apnea either – choking and gasping are signs of serious obstructive sleep apnea. In other words, your airway may be completely blocked (obstructed) for long enough that the lack of breathing (apnea) disturbs your sleep enough to cause you to wake up (restless sleeping pattern).
The implications for the rest of your health can be severe. This is due to something that you probably aren’t aware of: a complete disruption of your sleeping rhythm. Your body actually has a natural rhythm when you’re asleep. When your throat is obstructed as a result of sleep apnea, this rhythm is disrupted. And that can occur hundreds of times each night. So if you find yourself gasping for breath when you wake up at night, see a specialist as soon as possible!
#3 Insomnia (difficulty getting and staying asleep) often occurs as a result of sleep apnea – Listen to your body!
Do you find yourself burning the midnight oil every night? Has your sleeping pattern seemingly dissolved entirely? These are some of the classic signs of insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder in its own right; it’s often completely independent of obstructive sleep apnea. But by the same token, obstructive sleep apnea is a known cause of insomnia. If you are an insomniac who has sought medical assistance already, chances are obstructive sleep apnea has been discussed. Your treating Specialist will probably want to determine whether obstructive sleep apnea is the cause of your insomnia as a primary precaution. But what if you haven’t been diagnosed or treated for insomnia? We recommend that you seek treatment right away. Sleep is vital for not just your body, but also your mind.
#4 That morning headache might be more than just a coffee craving!
How’s your morning headache been lately? Morning headaches are common; their causes are many and varied! It could be a result of anything from dehydration, excessive coffee or alcohol. But if your headache is accompanied by some of the other symptoms we’ve spoken about, the cause might be obstructive sleep apnea. So keep that in mind and remember, obstructive sleep apnea is treatable – so look for help today.
#5 Fatigue during the day (daytime somnolence) is one of the more challenging sleep apnea signs to appreciate
A poor night’s sleep will result in a day of lethargy for just about anyone. When one flat day turns to a run of flat days it’s time to stop and think: why is this happening and what is making the problem worse? Maybe it’s related to a new bed, new timetable, or some other external factor? Or, could it be a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea? Speaking to a Specialist will help you to answer that question, and we recommend pursuing a diagnosis. Nobody should have to live with fatigue, so take action!
#6 Nocturia is one of the lesser known sleep apnea symptoms
Have you heard of nocturia before? It wouldn’t be surprising if you haven’t. Nocturia refers to the frequent need to pass urine through the night. It has recently been recognised as a common symptom in people with poor sleep patterns, including obstructive sleep apnea. Nocturia results in numerous episodes (>2) of waking to take trips to the bathroom each night. If your sleep is interrupted by the need to go to the toilet more than once or twice every night, you may have nocturia. Of course, there are other causes of frequent urination (diabetes, pregnancy, medications, heart and liver failure) that may require further investigation and treatment. But if you experience this symptom as well, then there’s probably a link.
#7 Have you been feeling irritable lately? It could be a result of restless sleep?
Sleep affects our mood. So it’s no surprise that obstructive sleep apnea does too. If you are constantly fatigued, have regular headaches, and exhibit any of the other signs or symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, then you could be forgiven for being a little irritable. But it can take a toll on your mental health and relationships. So look into obstructive sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment today – it will make a world of difference!
Do you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea? Contact our experts today on (07) 5503 1744 to treat your sleep apnea issues!