Your friends complain about someone snoring loudly in their household, and you smile knowing that, even if you did snore, you live alone, so there’s no one who can object. Unfortunately, this also means that you may not be aware of more serious conditions, such as sleep apnea, which affects about 30 million people in the United States, yet only 6 million are diagnosed.
Sleep apnea can have some potentially serious complications, such as cardiovascular health issues, so this is one condition that you want to be aware of if you have it.
While snoring and snorting throughout the night might be the hallmarks of sleep apnea, there are other signs and ways to tell whether you might be affected. To help, the team here at Houston Sinus Surgery, including Dr. Cecil Yeung and Dr. Marcus Hershey, cover a few sleep apnea red flags and what you should do next if you recognize them.
Sleep apnea, in brief
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.
With OSA — which accounts for most cases — the soft tissues at the back of your throat collapse while you sleep and block your airways. In response, your brain rouses you just enough to clear your airways so you can breathe again. This cycle can happen over and over throughout the night, dozens of times per hour, preventing you from getting a good night’s rest.
With central sleep apnea, your airway isn't blocked. Instead, your brain doesn’t tell your muscles to breathe due to issues with the central nervous system.
With complex sleep apnea, this means you have both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Signs of sleep apnea
Outside of the noises you make at night when you have sleep apnea, there are other telltale signs that your breathing may be disrupted during the night, such as:
As you can imagine, when you have sleep apnea, you have trouble reaching that level of restorative sleep that your body relies on to hit the reset button each night. Without proper rest, you can develop fairly serious daytime fatigue as well as cognitive issues, such as trouble with memory or an inability to focus.
You remember waking
While you might not hear the noises you make when your airways are blocked, you might vaguely recall waking throughout the night.
Drymouth and headaches
Many people with sleep apnea have dry mouth in the morning as well as a headache.
In addition, there's some speculation that sleep apnea is linked to mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, but more research is needed to determine whether it’s a causal relationship or coincidence.
If you suspect that you’re showing daytime signs of sleep apnea, the next step is to go for a sleep study or to use an at-home test. We can help you arrange for one of these options, which can definitively diagnose sleep apnea.
If we do find that you have sleep apnea through this testing, we offer many solutions that can help you breathe easier at night.
But, discussing treatments is getting ahead of ourselves. Your first step is to call our office in Houston, Texas, at . Or, you can book an appointment online.