Do I Have Sleep Apnea? 5 Telling Signs

Introduction

Quality sleep is becoming as precious as diamonds or gold in this country. In this fast paced world, it is getting harder to get that 7-9 hours of recommended sleep with the amount things we have to do and distractions like social media.

As an adult, getting a great night of sleep is priceless!

If you are one of the 22 million Americans struggling with sleep apnea, you may never get that quality of sleep needed to be productive.

You may wake up tired, struggling to find the energy to start your day. This is where overdependence on caffeine can develop.

Then during your day you are falling asleep at meetings or even just sitting in your chair.

You know it is getting worse, but you are not sure what to do.  

One of my close family members thought he was a narcoleptic (falling asleep at random times throughout the day). He thought he had a serious neurological issue going on…

Well until his wife told me that she had to buy the ne Bose noise cancelling headphones just to deal with his snoring. Then it was obvious to me, and my uncle got the help he needed.

The signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are not as obvious for most people. It is estimated that over 80% of those with obstructive sleep apnea are never diagnosed, most of them being overweight males in their 40’s.

Luckily you have one of the best family medicine residents to help you J

I will explain what sleep apnea, the warning signs, and how you can cure yourself of this ailment. Now let’s get started.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where one does not breathe for periods of time during sleep. There are three types, obstructive (most common), central (less common), and mixed (a combination of the two). Breathing can stop for a number of seconds. These episodes can happen from once a night to multiple times.

The less common central sleep apnea is the brain not telling the body to breathe. This is usually due to some pre-existing condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or a neurological disorder.

More commonly, people are affected by obstructive sleep apnea due to airway collapse during sleep. Either a large tongue falls back down the airway, or the airway is collapsed under the pressure of the neck.

Being obese is one of the biggest risk factors. In America, there is an obesity epidemic contributing to this. Other risk factors are family history, allergies, and enlarged tonsils.

Why Should I See Doctor?

There are SERIOUS complications of having undiagnosed sleep apnea.

Some of the Complications include:

High Blood Pressure

Heart Palpitations

Heart Failure

Stroke

Depression

First, it is just a pain for your partner to deal with.

Secondly having sleep apnea can prevent you from getting hired. If you are doing any job with driving, if you have untreated sleep apnea it is an automatic failure.

Third, it is a medical problem as well as a sleep problem, it must be properly diagnosed.

It is the same thing as having an undiagnosed heart condition and continuing to go out smoking and drinking with the boys every week day.

There is nothing more disappointing than seeing a life lost before their time.

No child should have to grow up without their mother,

No parents should ever have to bury their own son

There is no excuse to be living with sleep apnea!!!

This is a condition that is easily treatable and reversible with the proper medical management.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Your Spouse/Partner Complains of Snoring

This is the most commonly reported symptom. The upper airway is being collapsed by either fat or the tongue. This collapse causes air to be turbulent and make a lot of noise as it tries to escape. That causes terribly loud snoring that makes quality sleep for your partner near impossible.

Waking up Tired, Despite Adequate Sleep

Since you are waking up throughout the night, you are not getting full deep sleep.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Constantly Napping Throughout the Day

This is due to lack of energy. At first, you might contribute it to a heavy meal you ate or the air condition at the office.

However, it keeps happening, now you are falling asleep every time you watch television at home or waiting in your car for your children after school. The scariest concern is that you fall asleep while driving or operating some kind of heavy machinery.

Waking up at Night Gasping For Air

Your body does not get oxygen when the airway collapses. Our body’s response to low oxygen is gasping. If this is happening to you, then see your health provider as soon as possible. Most people may not notice it because they will fall asleep immediately after.

Morning Headaches

This is also due to poor oxygenation. As oxygen goes down, the blood vessels in the brain will widen to try and increase blood flow to get the proper amount of oxygen.

If you have any of these symptoms combined with being overweight (BMI over 30), having a large neck, or having high blood pressure, this can mean you have sleep apnea.

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

See your primary care physician- If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above it is critical that you communicate this with your doctor to make sure it is sleep apnea and not something else. They can diagnose sleep apnea with a sleep study. This test is considered positive if while you are sleeping, you stop breathing 5 times in one hour.

Work on better sleeping habits- Simple habits can have dramatic effects on your sleep. They can be as simple as:

No alcohol before bed

No drugs or smoking before bed

Turning off all screens

No eating/drinking before bed

Ordering a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine- This is done after seeing your physician. This machine is going to force your airway open and prevent it from collapsing at nighttime using air. Make sure you have a mask with a proper fit and clean the machine to prevent colonization of bacteria.

Conclusion

Sleep apnea can seriously affect one’s quality of life. It is something that should be addressed immediately. Who wants to wake up feeling tired? That automatically adds another stressor on your day combined with your regular responsibilities.

Do not feel embarrassed to have a discussion with your health provider. Its something that is common and can be treated.

You have the right to have quality sleep!

Christian Bramwell

Bio: Christian Bramwell, MD has a passion for educating people via blogging, educating, and writing. Education is his mission in life and why he has chosen to be a family medicine physician and found his own nonprofit Project RAK based on education and empowerment.

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