When Snoring Gets Serious – How to Know if You Have Sleep Apnea

Feel like nodding off at work? You may have sleep apnea.

Feel like nodding off at work? You may have sleep apnea.

Snoring elicits plenty of jokes, not to mention bruises from elbow jabs by sleeping partners. But when it’s more than a simple snore, it’s no laughing matter. In fact, loud habitual snoring can be a telltale sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a potentially life threatening disorder.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing pauses or significantly slows while you’re sleeping because the airway has become narrowed, blocked or floppy. Affecting one in five adults, OSA can involve a variety of obstruction types including excess tissue, large tonsils or tongue or a problem with the airway muscles, nasal passages or jaw position. Such obstructions cause momentary cessations of breathing or “apneas” and your impulses respond by waking you.

Mild sleep apnea sufferers generally have more than 30 apneas during a seven-hour sleep. In severe cases, one may be unable to breathe for periods of 60 to 90 seconds, and this may recur up to 500 times a night. Depending upon the severity of your case, OSA symptoms can affect multiple areas of your life, work, relationships and health:

  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental function
  • Poor judgment or inability to focus
  • Memory loss
  • Quick temper
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime chest pain
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Excess weight gain
  • Sore throat
  • Enlargement of the neck
  • Airway crowding
  • Morning headaches
  • Reduced libido
  • Frequent nighttime bathroom trips

Left untreated, OSA can pose serious health risks including heart attacks, strokes, irregular heart beat or hear t disease. Though sleep apnea is a chronic condition typically requiring lifelong treatment, there are multiple options for managing your case and significantly reducing related life-threatening issues. If you suffer sleep apnea and are ready for a good night’s sleep, contact St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat at 904-461-6060 or via our online appointment scheduling form.