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5 Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea affects millions of adults in Canada, yet most of these cases and other sleep disorders go undiagnosed. Many people don’t realise that untreated sleep apnea can lead to health problems and other severe consequences. Although the primary characteristic of sleep apnea is frequent pauses in breathing while asleep, there are actually three different types of sleep apnea:

Chronic Snoring And Other Common Signs Of Sleep Apnea

  • CSA or central sleep apnea: where the pauses are caused by failure of the brain to instruct the respiratory system to breath.

  • OSA or obstructive sleep apnea: where the interruptions in breathing are due to a physical blockage in the airways, such as collapse of the throat and tongue tissues into the airway.

  • Complex or mixed sleep apnea: the combined effects of CSA and OSA.

  • About 85 percent of sleep apnea cases involve OSA, while CSA accounts for less than 1 percent. Regardless of the form, the poor breathing patterns—sometimes up to 30 pauses per hour—can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing you to awake from sleep in order for the airway to reopen. It can be hard to notice the sleep interruption, but the consequences of lack of continuous sleep will be apparent. Below are some common signs of sleep apnea.

    1. Loud Chronic Snoring

      People snore when air forces itself into the lungs through partially blocked airways. Snoring alone doesn’t necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea, but if it’s loud, disruptive, and persistent, you should visit a doctor. You may need to rely on the observations of other people to identify a snoring problem.

    2. Frequent Pauses in Breathing

      When you stop breathing, the brain automatically arouses you from sleep to re-open the airways. However, the awakening is often so short that you won’t remember it in the morning, even if it occurs 5 to 30 times per hour and last 10 to 20 seconds. If your sleep partner tells you about frequent breaks in breathing, you should visit your doctor for diagnosis.

    3. You Often Wake up with Headaches

      The interruption of sleep and oxygen delivery to the brain can cause the blood vessels to widen, as they try to take in more oxygenated blood, resulting in vascular headaches.

    4. Fatigue and Drowsiness All the Time

      If you think that you get plenty of rest at night, between seven and nine hours of sleep, but have a chronic feeling of daytime tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), you may be suffering from sleep apnea. The frequent interruptions in breathing reduce the quality and quantity of night sleep, making it hard for you to concentrate. It may also reduce your energy levels, causing you to feel tired, moody, and irritable, and to doze off at random times.

    5. Dry Mouth or Sore Throat in the Mornings

      Snoring and struggling to breath all night can cause a dry mouth and sore throat. Visit a sleep specialist for diagnosis and personalized treatment. Untreated sleep apnea is associated with serious health problems including heart failure, stroke, heart attacks, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and diabetes, among others. So, it is important to get it treated as soon as you’re aware of the symptoms.


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Dr. Tali Waksman
A graduate from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Tali Waksman went on to work as the only dentist on a Native reserve, serving 2000 people after completing a residency at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. With a warm and friendly personality and close attention to detail, she treats every patient like family.