Health Sleep Apnea Symptoms Are Not Always Easy To Recognize

by Donald Saunders - Date: 2007-04-28 - Word Count: 610 Share This!

Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder which affects more than twelve million Americans and is now as common as adult diabetes.

The commonest form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea which, as the name suggests, results from an obstruction to the airways which interferes with breathing. There is also a second form of sleep apnea known as central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to control breathing adequately during sleep. Finally, some people suffer from mixed sleep apnea, which is a combination of both obstructive and central forms of the condition.

Sleep apnea symptoms can appear at any time and, while they are most commonly seen in overweight men over the age of forty, they can be found in both men and women at any age and are increasingly being seen today in children.

The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring which is of course a difficult symptom to spot yourself and normally needs to be pointed out to you by a sleeping partner. Snoring has many causes and the presence of snoring is not by itself an indication that you have sleep apnea. Most sleep apnea sufferers will however snore.

The second most obvious symptom is excessive daytime tiredness. Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing frequently during sleep and the body's natural reaction to this is to wake you just enough for you to start breathing again, but not sufficiently for you to be aware of the fact that you are being awakened. The result of this is that your sleep is very light and continually interrupted and you do not enjoy the deep sleep that your body needs to recharge its batteries. As a consequence, over time, you find that you are becoming increasingly tired and sleepy during the day.

If sleep apnea is left untreated its effects will begin to become evident and further symptoms will start to appear. These may include headaches (especially first thing in the morning), irritability and possibly depression. You may also notice that you are starting to put on weight.

A less obvious symptom of sleep apnea is an increase in blood pressure which can result in a number of cardiovascular problems. This will be picked up if you are among the growing number of people who now monitor their own blood pressure regularly at home but otherwise will not be detected until you have a routine physical exam at your doctor's office.

Yet another symptom is that of increasing learning difficulties and problems with memory retention. Again this is not something that is easy to spot yourself but others may notice that you are not as quick on the uptake as you used to be.

Finally, some sleep apnea sufferers will notice a decline in sexual function and this can ultimately result in impotency.

As with many conditions individual symptoms by themselves could be a sign of just about anything. However, when you start to see these symptoms coming together then you should consider consulting your doctor and think about being tested for sleep apnea.

One word of warning though. Sleep apnea testing will often involve referral to a sleep specialist, preferably one who is certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine (ABSM), and could mean undergoing overnight sleep testing either in a sleep laboratory or at home. Such testing can often cost upwards of $1,000 and you should check with your insurance company before committing yourself to a program of sleep apnea evaluation. offers information and advice on a range of different sleep disorders including insomnia and sleep apnea and looks in some detail at sleep apnea symptoms and treatment.

Related Tags: sleep apnea, sleep apnea symptoms, obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, mixed sleep apnea

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