Patients who know or have heard of obstructive sleep apnea might suspect they have the condition if they discover that they snore regularly. While the good news is that not everyone who snores exhibits sleep apnea, it is a good idea to be sure if you or your loved one exhibits common symptoms.
Sleep apnea describes a disorder during which you can stop breathing repeatedly due to a blockage of mouth and throat tissues in the airway. Despite the obstruction and the cessation of breath, many patients don’t realize they have sleep apnea until they seek a professional diagnosis.
Snoring is one of the most recognizable symptoms of sleep apnea, and occurs when your airway is partially blocked by tissues. In the case of sleep apnea, however, snoring grows louder as the airway becomes increasingly more obstructed, and then stops suddenly when the airway is completely closed. The distinct snoring pattern of growing louder, stopping, and then starting again is an indicative symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.
Suddenly waking up (especially if you’re short of breath)
Usually, sleep apnea cycles occur quickly enough that you might not be aware of the disturbances while you sleep. In some cases, however, you may wake up suddenly, gasping for air as you become able to breathe again. If this occurs more than once, then it is likely not a coincidence, and you should visit your dentist as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of sleep apnea.
Even if you are not aware of your sleep apnea episodes, they can stop you from entering a deep enough sleep to rest and rejuvenate properly. Over time, the cumulative effects of not getting enough sleep can lead to symptoms of sleep deprivation, including high levels of fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and more. If you experience sleep deprivation, but believe that you are sleeping peacefully through the night, then obstructive sleep apnea may be to blame.