Sleep Apnea Symptoms: Tired of Being Tired?
It happened again, didn't it? You woke up groggy. Your loved one woke up cranky. All because of your snoring (or "roaring" as your loved one calls it), which has been described as a glass-breaking snore followed by a muffled gasp and deafening silence.
You laughed it off before, but you've heard about it so many times now that you have a nagging suspicion something's actually wrong. Well, you just might be right. Because what your loved one's describing sounds a lot like sleep apnea symptoms.
Wait. What Is Sleep Apnea?
Ok, let's back up. Before we talk about the symptoms of sleep apnea, let's wrap our heads around what sleep apnea actually is. We'll start with a technical definition, as used by the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA): Apnea is the Greek word for "without breath." Add "sleep" to "apnea" and you get a definition that goes something like this: Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing while they sleep. According to the ASAA, episodes of apnea can occur as much as 100 times a night and last for seconds or even minutes.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed. What makes them different? Obstructive sleep apnea is the most "physical" of the three, caused by a blocked airway. Blockage can be the result of last night's pizza stuck in your throat; but when it's chronic, that usually means the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse while you sleep. Central sleep apnea is more like a short circuit; it happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. Mixed sleep apnea doesn't discriminate — it's a combination of both.
Who’s at Risk?
Sleep apnea affects about 12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unlike snoring, which affects most people without issue, apnea symptoms can lead to serious conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and even impotence.
A number of factors can determine your risk for sleep apnea symptoms: Your sex, ethnicity, age, weight, genetic history and daily habits may all be reasons why you develop a sleep apnea symptom or two.
If you can relate to any of the following, you may be at high risk for sleep apnea:
Over the age of 65?
- Male and overweight?
- Of African-American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic descent?
- Have a small airway? (A professional should answer this one.)
For all you parents out there, keep in mind that you don't have to be an adult to be part of the sleep apnea symptoms club. Symptoms of sleep apnea can manifest in your little ones too — especially if they have enlarged tonsils. So be sure to watch out for the sleep apnea symptoms mentioned in the next section.
You're already familiar with one sleep apnea symptom: a loud snore followed by a roar of silence. Other symptoms of sleep apnea can occur while you're wide-eyed and bushy tailed. Well, that might be stretching it, and here's why: When you have sleep apnea, another common sleep apnea symptom is feeling like you're in a constant haze. Depending on your lifestyle, that might not be abnormal. For most people, however, it's not the norm.
To identify other apnea symptoms, use this snore scorecard:
- Are you always groggy when you wake up?
Do you often have headaches when you wake up?
Ever catch yourself dozing off at the wheel, even during the day and when there's no traffic?
When you sit down to read or watch TV, are you out in a matter of minutes?
Are you constantly forgetting things? Having difficulty concentrating?
Has your loved one said it sounds like you gasp, choke or hold your breath while sleeping?
Answering "no" to more than half of these sleep apnea symptom questions could mean that you or a loved is in the clear. However, if you answered "yes" to most or all of them, it's a pretty good indication that you haven't had any sleep and now you want to weep (read: there's a problem). Keep in mind that whether these symptoms of sleep apnea describe you to a "T" or don't sound like you at all, it's best to see a dentist or physician for a professional diagnosis.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms Treatment
Sleep apnea symptoms treatment ranges from losing weight, quitting smoking or changing sleep positions to using mouth guards or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. Mouth guards and other oral appliances like Silent Nite® reposition the jaw to open up the airway. These are custom made at your dentist's office.
The CPAP mask delivers steady streams of air while you sleep (the pressure is determined by the results of an ENT-prescribed sleep study). This continuous flow of air ensures that you consistently receive oxygen - especially during episodes of apnea when you stop breathing. While extremely effective, we're not going to lie: When you put on a CPAP mask, it does look like you're channeling fighter pilot dreams of times past. And it does take some to adjust to wearing a CPAP mask while you sleep.
But the tradeoff for any initial discomfort associated with a mouth guard or CPAP is worth it. All those sleep apnea symptoms should slowly recede: You should feel alert rather than groggy in the morning and throughout the day, your recall should improve (so no more excuses for "forgetting" those special dates!), and concentrating should feel like a no-brainer. But best of all, sleep apnea symptoms treatment can help allay more serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
So which sleep apnea symptoms treatment is right for you - mouth guard or mask? The way to find out is to visit the dentist or physician.
We can help you find a dentist who specializes in treating symptoms of sleep apnea. Call 1-866-970-0441 now!