Do You Have Sleep Apnea Symptoms? Warning Signs and Treatments – 2022

An asian couple on bed with husband snoring


Snoring is one of the most common warning signs of a sleeping disorder, but it is only one of many sleep apnea symptoms. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea do not all exhibit loud snoring and vice-versa. Many people are unaware that they show signs of sleep apnea until told by a family member, partner, or roommate.

Learn how to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. See what types of sleep apnea you could have and the treatment options available. And find out how to limit risk factors that contribute to the severity of sleep apnea symptoms.

Millions of people living with sleep apnea symptoms go their whole lives without ever receiving a diagnosis or treatment. Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder where the muscles in your throat close up and disrupt your breathing while you sleep. Patients with sleep apnea often snore loudly during the night and have difficulty waking up, even after a full night of rest.

Common Warning Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

There are three different types of sleep apnea, but the warning signs and symptoms overlap. If you experience these symptoms, it may be a warning sign that you have sleep apnea:

  • Excessive snoring
  • Stop breathing during sleep
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Frequent headaches in the morning
  • Insomnia: Inability to stay asleep
  • Hypersomnia: Chronic fatigue throughout the day
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Focus and memory problems

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of the disorder and occurs when your throat muscles relax too much and close off your airway in your sleep. The muscles in the back of your throat support a great deal of your maxillofacial structure, including your soft palate, uvula, sidewalls of the throat, tongue, and tonsils. When the muscles relax, your airway can become narrow enough to close completely from the pressure of your natural breathing.

Since your throat is obstructed, you are not intaking enough air, and your blood oxygen level decreases to the point where your brain wakes from sleep just enough to activate your throat and allow air intake. You probably will not remember waking up, but you won’t feel well rested either.

Throughout the night, your body repeats this pattern, over and over. As soon as you fall asleep, your airway becomes obstructed, and your brain rouses you just enough to breathe. Then you drift back to sleep only to experience the same cycle again and again throughout the night. This pattern can occur from five to 30 times an hour, causing gasping or choking and preventing your brain from completing a healthy sleep cycle.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is less common and occurs when your brain fails to send neuro signals that control your breathing during sleep. CSA interrupts the brain’s neurotransmitter and neuro-receiver system that regulates and manages your body’s unconscious functions. When a patient falls asleep, the brain stops transmitting instructions to the rest of the body for a short while and prevents the sleeping mind from making an effort to breathe.

Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome (CompSAS)

Complex sleep apnea syndrome (CompSAS) is when a patient suffers from CSA and OSA. Currently, scientists and doctors are unsure about the cause of CompSAS. Talk to your doctor or oral surgeon about ways to treat your sleep apnea and relieve symptoms.

Sleep Apnea Treatments and Therapy Options

The best treatment for sleep apnea depends on your case, symptoms, and health history. Patients with sleep apnea suffer from mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. For mild cases, lifestyle changes can often cure apnea, such as quitting smoking, treating allergies, and addressing other peripheral health conditions.

It is considered moderate to severe if lifestyle changes alone cannot adequately treat your apnea. Your doctor or oral surgeon can recommend various treatment options and medical devices to help open your airways while sleeping. For severe cases of apnea, oral surgery may be the best solution. 

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine delivers air through a mask you wear during sleep. The air pressure in the mask is higher than that of the air in the surrounding room, which works to keep the upper passageways of your throat open. Many patients experience disturbance-free sleep and no longer snore.

Other airway pressure devices are also available for patients with sleep apnea. An Auto-CPAP machine can automatically adjust the air pressure while you sleep, which is helpful if you travel to higher or lower elevation areas with different air pressures. And bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) machines supply more pressure when you breath-in than when you breath-out.

Oral Sleep Appliances

Some patients prefer oral sleep appliances in addition to or in replacement of a CPAP machine. Oral sleep appliances work to keep your throat open while you sleep by slightly moving the jaw forward. The result can be a complete cessation of snoring for patients with a mild to moderate case of sleep apnea. Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon to find out how these appliances can help alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms.

Supplemental Oxygen and Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV)

Adaptive servo-ventilation is a modern treatment devise that works by learning and storing information on your natural breathing pattern. When you sleep, the device monitors your breathing to provide precision positive airway pressure throughout the night. If your case is moderate to severe, supplemental oxygen might be necessary to deliver oxygen to you during sleep.

How to Find the Best Treatment Solution for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can cause damage to your heart and lead to a range of medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. If you think that you might be living with a form of sleep apnea, treatment can add years to your life and improve how you live it. Contact our office for a free consultation to learn how treatment can alleviate your sleep apnea symptoms, extend your longevity, and improve your quality of life.

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