Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that does not receive enough attention. If left untreated, individuals with sleep apnea can slowly starve their bodies of enough oxygen, leading to high blood pressure, heart failure, and even a stroke. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be dealing with sleep apnea, there are some symptoms and risks you should know about.
Age – Sleep apnea can affect patients of all ages, including children. The number one sign of sleep apnea is snoring, so it’s important to talk to your child’s pediatrician if your child snores as they sleep. It is important to know that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. However, if there are long pauses between breaths, followed by choking and gasping sounds, then the snoring is likely a symptom of sleep apnea. Pay careful attention during waking hours to identify possible symptoms of sleep deprivation. When you wake up, do you feel tired or have trouble concentrating? This may be a sign of sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea. On the other hand, if you feel rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep, then snoring is probably not a cause for concern.
Weight – Being overweight dramatically increases your risk of developing sleep apnea, but it is not always a factor. Some patients who are a normal weight or even slightly overweight can also suffer from sleep apnea. The structure of the face and the anatomy of the neck both play a role in contributing to a person’s risk of having sleep apnea. Large tonsils, small jaws, overbites, and large necks can contribute to having sleep apnea, therefore preventing a patient’s body from getting a healthy flow of oxygen throughout the night.
Sounds – Snoring is not always present in people with sleep apnea, and not snoring at night may give you a false sense of security. Experts predict that nearly 20 percent of patients suffering from sleep apnea do not snore while they sleep. Sleep apnea is already difficult to recognize on your own, and the most convincing proof is when someone else witnesses your unusual sleeping behavior. Sleep apnea occurs when regular breathing patterns are disrupted during sleep. The patient will pause for long periods of time and then suddenly and desperately gasp for air. Oftentimes, the person will wake up with a headache, a dry mouth, or a sore throat. All of these are considered symptoms of sleep apnea and should be treated by a medical professional.
Gender – Sleep apnea is more prominent in men than women, but many women also suffer from this condition. Because people associate the condition more often with men, women often go undiagnosed for longer. Some women may feel embarrassed to discuss snoring with their primary physician, or it may not be as noticeable to your partner. Women who have experienced menopause are at a higher risk of having sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can create disturbances throughout your day like mood swings, feelings of depression, and fatigue. If you feel as though your days get off to a rough start, you should strongly consider talking to your doctor about sleep apnea. Your body deserves and needs to get solid sleep so you can feel better during the day and night.
If you are struggling to sleep and are wondering if you might be suffering from sleep apnea, the professionals at Silent Night Therapy can help. Contact us at (631) 983-2463 to schedule a free sleep apnea consultation with Dr. Brown and our team today.