Rogue Magazine Health Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that often goes undiagnosed. What are the symptoms, and why is treatment so important? Here’s what you need to know about this mysterious breathing condition.

Chronic Snoring: A Red Flag for Sleep Apnea

Probably the number one symptom people associate with sleep apnea is snoring, and for good reason. Snoring can be hard to ignore and extraordinarily loud – especially for sleep partners who are trying to get a good night’s rest!

While snoring is a red flag, everyone who snores doesn’t have sleep apnea. And everyone who has sleep apnea doesn’t snore. The real question is what’s happening in a person’s airway while they are sleeping that makes them snore or worse, stop breathing.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA – the most common type of sleep apnea – occurs when the muscles in the throat relax during sleep and block the airway. Snoring may result when this happens, but the disruptions in breathing are what make OSA so concerning.

Pauses in breathing can cause the oxygen level in the body to drop and may happen as many as 30 times per hour in more severe cases. Often, a person with sleep apnea may sound like they are choking or gasping for air. This choking sound happens when the airway opens back up again, often without the person even waking up.

In the short term, OSA can affect people’s sleep and quality of life. Over time, OSA can also take a toll on people’s overall health and has been linked to serious conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and others.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

While symptoms of OSA may vary among different people, they can include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep and choking or gasping for air
  • A dry mouth in the morning
  • Morning headaches
  • Daytime tiredness and irritability

A diagnosis of OSA may be made with a sleep study that can be done at home or in a sleep lab. The results can tell if a person has OSA and how mild or severe it may be.

How Is OSA Treated?

A number of different treatment options are available for OSA, depending on each individual and the severity of the problem. Treatments may range from lifestyle changes – such as weight loss, smoking cessation, or clearing nasal passages – to custom-fitted mouthpieces, breathing devices, and/or surgery.

For patients who meet certain criteria for surgery, treatment may entail:

  • Widening the breathing passages by shrinking, stiffening, or removing excess tissue in the mouth and throat, or
  • Resetting the lower jaw to help open up the airway

Sleep Apnea Treatment 

Getting specialized care is important if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of OSA. Not only can treatment help improve everyday quality of life, but it may also help reduce the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions. 

Ryan Senft DDS believes that every patient deserves the highest standard of dental care and provides expert care to three convenient locations in the New York area.

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