8 Subtle Signs of Sleep Apnea You Should Be on the Lookout For
Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms to Look For
Snoring is synonymous with sleep apnea, but the symptoms of early obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can begin quite subtly. Furthermore, many the symptoms can easily be mistaken for other health problems. This is why consulting with your dentist or doctor and explaining all of your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated, is so important for diagnosis.
If you’re experiencing one or more of these signs of sleep apnea, it’s time to chat with your healthcare professional and get treatment.
1. You snore loudly on a nightly basis.
Snoring is a classic symptom, but one so common that it should be discussed. If you snore nightly or near-nightly, and your snoring is quite loud, you could be experiencing OSA. If you’re a snorer and also experiencing the other symptoms below, chances are high you have a case of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). However, a lack of snoring doesn’t eliminate all forms of sleep apnea.
2. You often wake up abruptly in the middle of the night.
Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the airway, which is what causes the classic snoring symptom. But another issue that can occur is a complete blockage of the airway, resulting in suddenly waking up in the middle of the night. Sometimes it may be accompanied by a panicked, choking feeling, while other times it may just feel confusing when you’re unsure why you’ve woken up.
3. You often wake up with a dry, sore throat.
Waking up with a sore, dry throat and dry mouth isn’t normal. Unless you happen to have a cold coming on, waking up with a dry mouth and throat means you were open-mouth breathing during the night. This commonly occurs with OSA and usually accompanies snoring. If you don’t sleep next to a partner, this symptom could mean you are a nightly snorer without even knowing it.
4. You find yourself sleepy during the day, despite getting eight hours.
You know when you go to bed, and you know when you wake up. So if the math adds up to eight hours of sleep, why are you so tired? Well, if you have sleep apnea, those eight hours aren’t really eight hours of true, restful sleep. A large number of sleep apnea sufferers experience chronic daytime sleepiness, even if they think they sleep for long periods of time at night.
5. You’re experiencing morning headaches that linger.
Morning headaches may last for 10 to 15 minutes before waning or can even linger until the early afternoon. If you’re experiencing daytime sleepiness and a sore throat when waking, the addition of a morning headache is further proof that something is going on. These headaches are generally caused by physical tension around the face and neck that occurs with OSA.
6. You’re having trouble focusing during the day.
A lack of sleep will definitely begin to affect how you feel during the day. Daytime sleepiness and the demands of school, work, and family can leave you feeling not only drained of energy but physically unable to focus or concentrate on even easy tasks. You might notice you’re making mistakes you normally wouldn’t or you have a constant feeling of brain fog.
7. You’ve found that you feel irritable or tense.
Just like toddlers get cranky when they’re due for a nap, even the calmest, most easy-going person can feel irritable if they don’t get enough sleep. As sleep apnea continues without a diagnosis and treatment, daytime sleepiness and brain fog lead to feelings of irritation, tension, and anxiety. In some cases, you might feel easily angered or even depressed or sad.
8. You’ve discovered you have high blood pressure.
It’s believed that high blood pressure (hypertension) can be caused by sleep apnea, OSA specifically. While not all sleep apnea sufferers have high blood pressure, about half of adults with OSA also have hypertension. These two health problems negatively impact one another and can lead to extremely dangerous consequences if left untreated. Heart disease may develop or a cardiac event can even occur.
Your dentist can be a valuable resource for getting relief from your sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea may seem like a physical issue that your primary care physician should take a look at, but your dentist can actually be a very valuable source of information, diagnosis, and treatment! In fact, the Tomasik Family Dental team is well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, including OSA. Dr. Tomasik has even received in-depth, specialized training in effectively treating sleep apnea with special oral appliances.
For more information on sleep apnea or to book a consultation, call our Bee Cave, TX office or use this online form.