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Often what people don't realize is that failing to treat your OSA can lead to many serious health risks. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and many more. It is also very rare for OSA sufferers to enjoy a restful nights sleep, leading to chronic fatigue and even a greater risk of traffic accidents.
It's very important that you understand the signs and symptoms of OSA so that you can seek a diagnosis and treatment from a sleep doctor as soon as possible. Treating your OSA can make a huge difference in your overall quality of life.
There are two main categories of OSA symptoms; day-time and night-time symptoms.
OSA Day-Time Symptoms:
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 or Headache - Gasping for air throughout the night causes low oxygen levels in the blood and waking up regularly with a sore, dry throat and a painful morning headache.
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 or even while driving. This symptom is potentially very dangerous.
OSA Night-Time Symptoms:
Frequent Loud Snoring - A lot of people do snore, however it's more common for men and those who are overweight or who are diagnosed with OSA. Snoring occasionally is not always a serious issue, more of a distraction for your bed partner. But sometimes frequent, persistent loud snoring is actually a symptom of OSA - your airways are obstructed and breathing is more difficult.
Gasping for Air or Choking - People who suffer from OSA often will experience pauses in breathing while asleep, as well as choking or gasping for air occasionally. These breathing issues will not always wake the sufferer up, but it will affect the quality of their sleep.
Insomnia & Poor or Restless Sleep - Because people who suffer from OSA experience the symptoms like snoring, choking or gasping for air, it's easy to see how these sufferers 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 someone who suffers from OSA tends 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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Noticing a few signs of OSA doesn't necessarily mean that someone has it. However, if you are experiencing many of these issues on a regular basis, it's very important to discuss with your physician. OSA can be very dangerous to your health if left untreated.
If you are diagnosed with OSA, the good news is that there is treatment!
One of the most effective and popular forms of treatment is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. A CPAP machine uses a constant flow of airway pressure delivered from a mask to your throat which maintains open airways during sleep, eliminating any obstructions. Another form of treatment is Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP) therapy. The most common form of EPAP is Provent Sleep Therapy. Provent Sleep Therapy is a disposable, nightly-use nasal device placed just inside the nostrils and held securely in place with hypoallergenic adhesive. Provent uses a proprietary MicroValve design that creates pressure when you exhale to keep your airway open. Provent is small and disposable, making it discreet and very convenient.
It is important to discuss with your physician which treatment option would be ideal for you and would fit your needs best. Living with OSA can be exhausting, luckily with the right treatment you can be feeling well rested in no time.
Read our companion article 9 Foods to Avoid in the Hours Before Sleep to learn which foods to steer clear of in the hours before bedtime.