Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that can have severe side effects. Sleep apnea is a disease that causes interrupted breathing while sleeping. This interruption in breathing can lead to stroke, heart attack, and can even be fatal. If you are wondering if you may have sleep apnea, here’s a list of the most common side effects to help you decide.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

While not always related to sleep apnea (as it can be caused by stress or anxiety), excessive daytime sleepiness is almost always accompanied with obstructive sleep apnea. Those who have sleep apnea are brought into a lighter level of sleep every time they have an episode, which can be upwards of 80 times per hour in the extreme cases. This disturbance makes it impossible to get into the deeper levels of sleep (such as REM sleep) where your body heals and rejuvenates.

Loud Snoring

Snoring is by far the most common indicator of sleep apnea, especially when accompanied by any of the other symptoms in this list. Snoring isn’t normal in anyone and is very unusual in children and young adults. Snoring is the sound of tissues vibrating inside the throat, nose, or other parts of the airway. Sometimes the symptom is simply noisy breathing or “just snoring”, but when accompanied by any of the other symptoms could be indicative of a more serious disease.

Abrupt Awakenings Accompanied by Gasping or Choking

Gasping for air while breathing is a huge indicator of sleep apnea. Although hard to tell as the one with sleep apnea, there are some signs, including abrupt awakenings out of sleep and dreams of drowning or being suffocated. If you often wake up with feelings of choking or have dreams related to drowning or suffocating, you could be a victim of sleep apnea and just not know it.

Observed Episodes of Stopped Breathing During Sleep

Often not noticed by the patient, choking or gasping is more often reported by the spouse or significant other. This choking is called an apnea, or a blockage preventing airflow through the trachea. If you notice a pause in breathing, followed by gasping or choking, your loved one could be dealing with a serious medical concern. Visit with a sleep specialist as soon as you can.

Morning Headaches

Morning headaches can be caused by a number of things, sleep apnea being one of them. If you have sleep apnea, part of the night you are depriving your brain and organs of precious oxygen. This prolonged lack of oxygen to the brain can cause headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, and even depression.

If you or a loved one has one or more of these symptoms, you are at risk for sleep apnea. Visit your local Houston sleep specialist and learn how we can help!