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What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can cause a variety of issues and symptoms, but many people who have this disorder haven’t been diagnosed. It’s important to recognize the symptoms so you can see a doctor to confirm the presence of sleep apnea and receive effective treatment.

In this blog, Dr. Cecil Yeung at Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute will explain more about this disorder and how you can recognize sleep apnea symptoms.

What is sleep apnea?

This common sleep disorder affects an estimated 22 million Americans, but many don’t know they have it. If you have sleep apnea, you involuntarily stop breathing while you’re asleep. This can occur hundreds of times a night and last for more than a minute at a time. As a result, your brain and body don’t get the oxygen they need to function as well as they should, and you don’t get the deep, restorative sleep you need.

In many cases, patients don’t realize that they have sleep apnea since they don’t fully wake up when their breathing pauses. They may feel very tired despite having spent enough time in bed, and their partners may comment on their loud snoring.

What causes sleep apnea?

There are three main types of sleep apnea, each of which has a different cause.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the most frequently seen type and is caused by a blockage of the upper respiratory airway. It can be caused when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep or the tongue falls back into the airway. Nasal issues such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps can also cause OSA.
  • Central sleep apnea: The airway isn’t blocked, but the brain doesn’t properly signal the muscles to breathe.
  • Mixed: This is a combination of OSA and central sleep apnea.

What are the most common sleep apnea symptoms?

The most common sleep apnea symptoms include the following:

  • Loud snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, even when it seems as though you’ve gotten enough sleep
  • Gasping or choking sounds during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • A sore throat in the morning
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness and trouble concentrating
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

What are the treatment options for sleep apnea?

Treatment options for sleep apnea include lifestyle changes, non-invasive treatments, and surgery. These are some of the most common types of treatment:

Lifestyle changes

  • Sleeping on your side rather than your back
  • Elevating the head of your bed
  • Losing weight if you need to
  • Stopping smoking
  • Avoiding alcohol within four hours of bedtime
  • Stopping the use of sleeping medications

Non-invasive treatments

  • CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and APAP (automatic positive airway pressure): These devices are the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. They use a continuous flow of pressured air to help keep your airway open.
  • Oral appliance therapy: A custom-made oral appliance can help coax the lower jaw forward and stabilize the tongue to keep it from obstructing your airway.


If other treatment options aren’t effective or if you have severe sleep apnea, surgery may be your best option. Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, you may benefit from having excess tissue removed from the back of your throat or having your tonsils or adenoids removed. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) can be used to correct a deviated septum or to remove nasal polyps if one of these issues are causing your sleep apnea.

Where can I find the best sleep apnea treatment?

Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute is dedicated to providing exceptional results combined with compassionate care. Dr. Yeung offers sleep studies that can be performed in a sleep center or at home for your convenience. He’s a top ear, nose, and throat doctor who pioneered functional endoscopic sinus surgery in Houston and is known for his outstanding success rate that far exceeds the national average.

If he confirms a diagnosis of sleep apnea, Dr. Yeung will recommend the most conservative treatments to start, but if surgery is needed, you’ll benefit from his meticulous technique and precision.

If you’re snoring or have other sleep apnea symptoms, make an appointment with Houston Sinus Surgery today. We’ll be able to confirm or rule out the presence of sleep apnea and recommend treatments to help you get the deep, restorative sleep you need.

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