If you feel tired most of the time and wonder where your energy went, you are not alone. According to a medical study of adults, ”between 30% and 48% of older adults suffer from chronic insomnia.”(1) Spending each day wondering where your energy went is no way to live a life. One of the most common reasons adults visit doctors in the US is that they struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep all night. Insufficient sleep may cause adverse health issues and a risk of accidents. It makes sense to learn the top 10 warning signs of suffering from sleep apnea.

Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea

Avoiding your bedtime or putting off sleep because you’re just “not ready” or feel anxious about sleep might be your body’s way of telling you that there is something wrong. However, the most common warning signs that you suffer from sleep apnea include:

  • Breathing pauses or gasps in your sleep
  • Snoring
  • Waking up tired, even after a full night of sleep
  • A headache upon awakening
  • Waking up frequently during the night for “no reason”
  • Feeling sleepy or exhausted during the day
  • Need for frequent naps
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Cranky or short-tempered, frequently agitated
  • Waking up to use the restroom more than a few times

Experts estimate that 25 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (ASA, 2021). As many as 15-30% of males and 10-30% of females meet a broad definition of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). (2)  Because most people who suffer from sleep apnea don’t see their doctor for solutions, they may face other more dangerous health issues from not getting enough sleep.

Dangerous Health Effects of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea may cause many dangerous health issues. If you suffer from the health issues caused by sleep apnea, there is a chance that a lack of sleep, in fact, causes your health problems. 

Just because you are “asleep” for 8 hours doesn’t mean that you sleep well for 8 hours. If your body is constantly jolted awake during the night by lack of oxygen or you never achieve the beneficial sleep stages needed for your body to function well, your lack of sleep may still make you sick and tired.

It is crucial to see a sleep specialist to diagnose sleep apnea because of the inherent dangers of going without treatment. These health dangers include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Daytime sleepiness leading to accidents
  • Heart failure or other cardiovascular complications such as atrial fibrillation
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression

Getting a Diagnosis

A general practitioner may not have specialized knowledge about sleep apnea or understand the health dangers or daily symptoms associated with a diagnosis. They may simply miss the fact that you have sleep apnea, even if you present with all of the warning signs. The only definitive way to prove that you have sleep apnea is with a sleep study. 

If your general practitioner does not take your symptoms seriously, it’s time to see an ENT sleep specialist for an in-office evaluation. If needed, your ENT doctor will recommend a sleep study. At many ENT sleep diagnostic centers, you can schedule a sleep study at your convenience.

During a sleep study, you spend a night in a sleep clinic with painless electrodes attached to your body that measure your sleep, respiration, and other health data. ENT sleep specialists use the data from the study to diagnose sleep apnea. 

Different Types of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common breathing sleep disorder. When you have OSA, your throat or breathing passages tend to collapse while sleeping, causing snoring or a mechanical issue with drawing in breath. 

The gold standard of treatment in the past has been a CPAP machine. The CPAP involves wearing a mask and hose, sleeping on your back, and breathing out when the device allows you. However, more recently, doctors are prescribing the Inspire device which is an implantable medical device that you simply turn on with a remote control at night. Inspire helps you breathe and sleep deeply without the hose and mask of the CPAP.

Other types of sleep apnea include central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea. Each of these sleep disorders tend to respond well with treatment. It is possible to wake up feeling good in the morning, with energy and vitality. Seeing your ENT doctor for a sleep study is the fastest track to your sleep difficulty diagnosis.

Don’t Live in a State of Emergency

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States declared insufficient sleep a “public health problem.” Their studies show that “Adults who were short sleepers (less than 7 hours of sleep per 24-hour period) were more likely to report being obese, physically inactive, and current smokers compared to people who got enough sleep.” (3) 

Listen to the warning signs of sleep apnea that your body gives you. Not getting enough sleep can leave you anxious, exhausted, depressed, in poor health, and at risk of a major health emergency. 

We Can Help

At Enticare, our ENT doctors are board certified sleep specialists who understand how to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. We work with you to determine your symptoms through a sleep study and recommend the best treatment to help you feel awake during the day and sleep well through the night. Our experience has taught us to listen to your past experiences. If you’ve used a CPAP before and couldn’t continue, don’t just live with your sleep apnea. See us for new solutions and get your energy back. You deserve to feel alive and full of energy to live your best life. Schedule a sleep study or contact us today for an appointment and find out how we can help.

Footnotes:

  1. Bhaskar S, Hemavathy D, Prasad S. Prevalence of chronic insomnia in adult patients and its correlation with medical comorbidities. J Family Med Prim Care. 2016 Oct-Dec;5(4):780-784. doi: 10.4103/2249-4863.201153. PMID: 28348990; PMCID: PMC5353813.
  2. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-presentation-and-diagnosis-of-obstructive-sleep-apnea-in-adults/print 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5627640/ 
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