Just because you snore doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea, but if you do snore, you should know that it’s one of the most common early warning signs of the condition. If you sleep alone, you may not even realize you’re snoring or experiencing any of the other telltale signs of sleep apnea. But if someone is nearby at night to see and hear what you do in your sleep — and they tell you that you periodically stop breathing, gasp for air, and snore loudly — it’s time to get medical help.
Our doctors at Chase Dental SleepCare specialize in identifying the things that are keeping you from getting a good night’s rest and helping you overcome them so you can live life to the fullest. Sleep apnea is more common than most people think: According to one study, 20% of men and 12% of women over age 30 have been diagnosed with the condition, and up to 90% of those who have it don’t even know it.
That’s why we’ve come up with this list of early warning signs that can alert you to the possibility of sleep apnea.
Lots of people snore. Harmless snoring is simply a sound made when you have minor blockage of your airway when you breathe, which causes a slight vibration. This benign blockage could be caused by several things that have no connection to sleep apnea, including congestion, weak muscle tone, excess alcohol, or a deviated septum.
However, if you have sleep apnea, snoring is one of the primary symptoms. The difference is that sleep apnea sufferers don’t only snore — they stop breathing for short periods of time (apneas), which disrupts sleep.
At the very least, sleep apnea can cause you to live in a constant state of sleepiness. In moderate to severe cases, it increases your chance of developing serious conditions such as stroke, hypertension, mood disorders, and heart disease.
It’s easy to write off a mild headache as the result of stress, allergies and colds, or a little too much to drink the night before. However, a pattern of morning headaches is another sign of sleep apnea.
When you have sleep apnea, you either have something physically blocking your airway (called obstructive sleep apnea) or your brain and nerves aren’t properly controlling your breathing (called central sleep apnea). In both cases, each episode causes your body to wake up and restore your breathing and oxygen levels, which can lead to headaches.
Everyone has the occasional restless night that leaves you longing for a midday nap. But constant fatigue and tiredness may be more than a sign of periodic sleeplessness or insomnia; it could mean you have sleep apnea.
Under normal circumstances, your brain waves go through specific and important stages of sleep. If that cycle is being regularly disturbed, you never achieve full rest.
Chronic sleepiness affects your ability to concentrate at work or school, which has a ripple effect on your quality of life. And it doesn’t only affect you. Your inability to focus could lead to serious accidents, whether driving, operating machinery, or doing any other activity that requires concentration.
Another symptom of sleep apnea is an unexplained jolt that wakes you up in the middle of the night — particularly if your heart’s racing and you feel a bit breathless. That’s your body’s way of telling you that you’ve stopped breathing and you need oxygen. Clearly, sleep apnea left untreated can have serious health consequences.
Although many people are unaware of their sleep apnea, the good news it that once you know you have it, you can treat it. There are many possible causes, and your treatment depends on those triggers as well as your overall health.
At Chase Dental SleepCare, we complete a thorough evaluation of your condition, which may include a sleep test either in your home or at our lab. Once we determine the underlying reasons for your sleep apnea, we can recommend the best approach for reducing your symptoms and getting a better night’s sleep, from dental appliances to breathing machines to surgery.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, give us a call at any of our 11 convenient locations in Long Island, Yonkers, the Bronx, Manhattan, or Queens, New York. We’ve helped countless patients address their sleep apnea and reclaim a happier, healthier life.