Symptoms of Sleep Apnea – Why it is not just excessive snoring that you should watch out for?
The many and confusing symptoms of Sleep Apnea arguably make the affliction one of the most dangerous and poorly treated of all the sleep disorders. Because of the way Sleep Apnea manifests itself, both at night and during the day, the condition is not straight forward and doctors and patients can have a difficult time isolating the condition and managing it. If you are worried about your own potential sleeping problems, here is guide of what to expect when looking for signs of Sleep Apnea.
The most common of the potential symptoms is the excessive snoring, although not all patients display this behavior. Because snoring is such a common occurrence, it would be easy to dismiss this sign because it does not seem out of the ordinary. Snores emitted by people with the disorder are not that much different from normal, just perhaps a bit more forceful. Where snoring and Sleep Apnea differ is in the rhythm and breathing. If the sufferer experiences periods without breath during their sleep or grunts and snorts between snores than there may be a more serious problem. These grunts and snorts are a sign that the airway is being obstructed so that the individual cannot breathe normally. Additionally people with Sleep Apnea may find themselves getting up more often in the middle of the night to urinate.
Following on from the initial night-time problems and the awkward pattern of snores and breathlessness, there are some signs to watch out for during the day. The effect of this sleeping pattern can mean that many suffering from the disorder feel fatigued during the day, as though their sleep was not refreshing enough. On top of this, they can also find themselves struggling with their basic cognitive functions. Patients will find themselves more easily confused, dizzy and prone to mood swings. They can find this presents itself in a number of ways including a loss of libido, difficulty driving and memory loss. Sufferers also have a greater chance of waking up with a dry throat and significant pain. Heartburn, chest pain and swollen legs and headaches are all negative consequences of Sleep Apnea. The latter is a sign reported by at least 50% of people with the affliction.
These day-time signs are all common symptoms of Sleep Apnea but they can pose a problem in identifying the problem. The symptoms with the greatest negative effect tend to be the depression, irritability and others that closely mirror those of Insomnia, as a result patients recall these to their doctor and are often misdiagnosed with Insomnia or Depression because the breathing issue is not dealt with. For this reason, the best way to be diagnosed could well be with the testimony of a partner that can vouch for the breathing patterns. This level of patients being wrongly diagnosed is even higher in women, with one study showing more than 90% of female patients had undiagnosed Sleep Apnea. This occurs because men are seen as more likely to develop the problem and women tend to suffer the insomnia like symptoms and irritability more.
While the condition is seen as an adult sleeping disorder, there are cases of children having Sleep Apnea too. There are even behaviors exhibited by children that could be symptoms of Sleep Apnea and include hyperactivity, irritability, bed wetting and mouth breathing. If a child does show these signs it could be a clue that they have developed, or are likely to develop, Sleep Apnea.
In summary, the signs of Sleep Apnea – when you know where to look – are clear to see and numerous, whether it is through snoring, obstruction in breathing, headaches, fatigue or any of the other side-effects. The problem is that the best indicator of the condition can only be observed when the patient is asleep so misdiagnosis is common and patients can wrongly assume they have Insomnia or Depression. If you recognize these signs in your partner’s sleeping behaviour persuade them to tell a doctor, or if you are worried you are displaying the day-time symptoms yourself, ask your partner to monitor your breathing while you sleep. If you know the symptoms of Sleep Apnea to watch out for, the easier it can be to get a formal opinion and the necessary help.