Sleep apnea isn’t just dangerous because of the serious health conditions it can cause or contribute to like heart disease, liver problems, and more. It isn’t just dangerous because it increases your risk or workplace accidents or car accidents.
It’s dangerous because most people with sleep apnea don’t know that they have it. Even though there are successful and even convenient and comfortable treatment options, many people continue to suffer the risks because they don’t realize the danger.
Although sleep apnea is hard to detect because it happens while you’re asleep, there are some warning signs to look out for that can tell you you need to be checked for this potentially deadly condition.
Symptoms You May Experience
Although sleep apnea occurs during your sleep, you may still notice some symptoms of it at night, including:
- Waking up frequently to urinate
- Waking up short of breath
Nightmares are a sign of moderate sleep apnea. You may not remember the details, just the sense of danger and panic that caused you to awaken with a racing heart. As your sleep apnea worsens, nightmares may stop because your brain is too exhausted to even express this panic.
Other sleep apnea symptoms may be evident on waking, such as:
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Morning headaches
- Feeling unrested despite getting enough sleep
These symptoms relate to the impact sleep apnea has on you during sleep. Sleep apnea may lead to more mouth-breathing at night, which will dry your mouth out. The stress of repeated oxygen deprivation can cause the headaches, and the numerous awakenings overnight causes you to feel unrested.
Still other sleep apnea symptoms may become evident during the day or over time, such as:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Falling asleep during activities that require focus and attention like driving
- Irritability, depression, or moodiness
- Difficulty with focus or memory
- Weight gain or the inability to lose weight despite dieting and exercise
- Difficulty getting enough oxygen during exercise
This symptom list doesn’t imply that everyone with sleep apnea will have all these symptoms. Commonly, people only have a few of the symptoms. If you notice that you have several of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor, especially if there are other signs of sleep apnea.
Signs Your Partner May Notice
While you’re sleeping, there are other clues that you might have sleep apnea. These may be noticed by your partner if you do not sleep alone. Some of the more common signs include:
- Loud snoring
- Restless sleep
- Gasping or choking noise
- Cessation of breathing
Snoring in particular can be disturbing to your partner. It is a common cause of fights among married or live-in couples, one that often spirals out of control because both partners are short on sleep and therefore short on temper.
Conditions Your Doctor May Diagnose
One of the hallmarks of sleep apnea is the sheer number of medical conditions that it is related to. If your doctor diagnoses you with one or more of these conditions, it may be related to sleep apnea:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- Fatty liver disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Sexual dysfunction
Because it can cause sexual dysfunction, a lack of energy, and decreases exercise capacity, sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as low testosterone in men.
A Positive Diagnosis
There’s only one way to know for certain whether you have sleep apnea, and that’s with a sleep test. You may be able to take the sleep test at home or you may have to go to a sleep center to take the test.
Once you have been diagnosed, we can help you find a comfortable, convenient sleep apnea treatment.
To learn more about sleep apnea in Tulsa, please call (918) 528-3330 for an appointment at Winters Dental Excellence.