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The first step in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea is recognizing you have it. The symptoms below can help you spot OSA in yourself or your loved ones. Noticing a few of the signs doesn't necessarily mean that you have OSA; but they're a good guide to get you started in understanding the condition and preparing you to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
DAYTIME SYMPTOMS OF OSA
Chronic Fatigue - A good night's sleep is plays a huge part in our quality of life, energy level, mood and brain function. All of us have experienced the tiredness that comes after a bad night's sleep, but for someone who suffers from OSA they can feel that way almost daily.
Issues with Concentration - Poor quality of sleep leads to do poor brain function. People who suffer from OSA can often experience problems with concentration, forgetfulness and memory.
Waking Up with a Sore Throat, Dry Mouth or Headache - People with OSA often gasp for air throughout the night causing low oxygen levels in the blood. Waking up regularly with a sore throat, dry throat, or a painful morning headache can be a good indicator that you've spent much of the night with your mouth open gasping for air.
Moodiness, Irritability & Depression - OSA sufferers may have brain-chemistry issues like mood swings, persistent irritability, and even forms of depression. OSA is also known to attribute to decreased interest in sex.
Falling Asleep During Normal Daily Activities - With chronic fatigue also comes persistent feelings of sleepiness, which can cause the sufferer to nod-off during the day whether it's during a meeting at work, while relaxing at home, or even while driving. Daytime sleepiness can be very dangerous so if you find yourself falling asleep during your normal daily activities talk to a doctor right away.
NIGHTIME SYMPTOMS OF OSA
Frequent Loud Snoring - Lots of people snore and snoring is not always a symptom of OSA; but snoring, caused by obstructed airways during sleep, is a common symptom almost always associated with OSA. Many people think of snoring as an annoying habit that disturbs the sleep of bed partners, and that is certainly true, but it's worth noting that snoring can also be the most recongnizable symptom of OSA.
Gasping for Air or Choking - People who suffer from OSA often experience pauses in breathing while asleep followed by choking, snoring, or gasping for air. These breathing issues will not always wake the sufferer up, but they will affect the quality of sleep and can lead to dangerously low oxygen levels in the blood.
Insomnia & Poor or Restless Sleep - Because people with OSA experience symptoms like snoring, choking and gasping for air, they often have restless nights and poor sleep quality or even insomnia. Persistent breathing issues while sleeping simply make it tough for one to sleep throughout the night.
Frequent Trips to the Bathroom - Because people who suffer from OSA tend to wake up repeatedly during the night, they often make more trips to the bathroom than they typically would had they had a restful night of sleep.
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Failure to treat OSA can lead to many serious health risks -- like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes -- and risks to your daily wellbeing -- like trouble concentrating at work, a greater risk of traffic accidents, moodiness, irritability and depression. If you feel you or a loved one may have OSA we encourage you to contact your doctor or a healthcare professional immediately to discuss your symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options. Living with OSA can be exhausting, luckily with the right treatment you can be feeling well rested in no time.
Read our companion article Understanding the Basics of CPAP & BiLevel Sleep Therapy to learn more about popular treatment options for OSA.Last Update 2018-0928