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Signs & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

old woman plugging ears with an irritated expression laying in bed next to her partner

What Is Sleep Apnea? Is Sleep Apnea Life-Threatening?

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder, characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when an individual’s airway is blocked for a period of time during sleep. This is known as a sleep apnea episode, and can last anywhere from seconds to minutes. These episodes deplete the body’s oxygen level and disrupt sleep, leading to poor sleep health and daytime energy.

What happens to the body during an OSA episode?

An OSA episode occurs when the body is unable to inhale oxygen during sleep due to a blockage in the airway. Sleep apnea sufferers will often awaken during a sleep apnea episode with a loud snort or gasp, trying to breathe despite the airway blockage.

OSA causes an oxygen deficiency in the bloodstream. The brain senses this imbalance, and sends signals to the body to wake up and breathe. While this keeps the OSA sufferer from suffocating, it inhibits the ability to sleep through the night.

It is estimated that 90% of people with sleep apnea will go undiagnosed. It is critical to have your sleep apnea diagnosed by a sleep specialist who can help recover your sleep health.

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is caused by a variety of factors. The most commonly seen causes of sleep apnea include:

  • Different structure of the mouth – Large tonsils or tongue, along with other misshaped mouth parts can cause or contribute to an airway blockage.
  • Nasal conditions – A deviated septum, nasal passage congestion, and other nasal issues can all obstruct airflow.
  • Being overweight – Extra weight around the neck can narrow the airway and make it difficult to breathe.
  • Alcohol consumption and eating late at night – Drinking and late-night eating can relax the muscles in the throat, making obstruction more likely and increasing sleep apnea episodes.

What are some common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can occur without an individual realizing, since sleep apnea episodes happen during sleep. Because sleep apnea is sometimes difficult to detect, it is important to consult with an eos sleep apnea treatment specialist if you suffer from any daytime symptoms. Sleep apnea can also be detected by a bed partner, who can hear excessive snoring or witness sleep apnea episodes. Those suffering from sleep apnea may experience:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sore throat
  • Restless sleep
  • High blood pressure
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep

If you believe you or a bed partner may be suffering from sleep apnea, the first step toward an accurate diagnosis and treatment is consulting with a sleep apnea expert. Ear, nose, and throat specialists at eos sleep have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. Our practice offers a wide variety of minimally invasive treatment options, customized to fit your personal needs. Call 1-212-873-6036 today or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment or to learn more about eos sleep treatment options.

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