Snoring is the most common and most frequently cited symptom of sleep apnea. People living with sleep apnea often snore, loudly, throughout the night - a major signifier of the disorder. Snoring is not, however, the only symptom of sleep apnea.
People who live alone or those with partners or roommates who do not seem to be bothered by snoring may never have their nocturnal noises brought to their attention. This makes it very important to know some of the less talked about symptoms of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
With sleep apnea, breathing is obstructed by collapsed airways and soft tissue in the throat and mouth. This can create a complete cessation of breath, which is often followed by choking or gasping noises. This, in addition to snoring, is typically the focus when sleep apnea symptoms are discussed. But these symptoms may not be known by those who are experiencing them unless they are brought up by someone else.
Symptoms of sleep apnea that you may recognize without someone else’s observations include:
- Frequent morning headaches
- Waking most mornings with a dry mouth or a sore throat
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Memory and concentration problems
- A sudden onset of anxiety or depression
- Inexplicable mood swings
As a consequence of untreated sleep apnea, fatigue and energy loss may result in weight gain and other potential complications. When ignored for long periods of time, sleep apnea may increase risks for:
- Heart attack and stroke
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sexual dysfunction
If you are experiencing daytime symptoms of sleep apnea, it is a good idea to talk to a sleep doctor for proper testing and diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, Glendale dentist Dr. Donald Wilcox may be able to customize an oral appliance to help keep airways open and eliminate the symptoms of this disorder.
Steps to Reduce Sleep Apnea Risks
Smokers are three times as likely as nonsmokers to develop sleep apnea. Men and women who use narcotics and sedatives, including marijuana, or drink alcohol excessively (more than two drinks per day) are also at increased risk for sleep apnea. So too are individuals who are generally inactive and overweight. This makes obstructive sleep apnea a “lifestyle disorder” to at least some extent.
As a lifestyle disorder, lifestyle changes may be needed to truly eliminate the condition. These include:
- Not smoking
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Not using narcotics or sedatives, including prescription
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Getting adequate exercise
Current physical activity guidelines for adults are 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly and at least 60 minutes of daily activity. This can include walking, swimming, riding a bike, or anything else that gets a person up and moving.
Commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle is just one aspect of sleep apnea treatment, but when combined with a customized oral appliance that can keep airways open, it is often possible to avoid more invasive and annoying CPAP options.
If you suspect you are suffering from sleep apnea, let Dr. Wilcox help. Call Desert Smiles at 602-978-1790 to schedule a consultation at our Glendale office to learn more.
Dr. Wilcox provides sleep apnea treatment to men and women living in Phoenix, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, and all surrounding areas of Arizona.