Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Most people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it because their breathing stops while they’re sleeping. But there are many symptoms you might notice, such as:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Waking up to urinate
- Bedwetting (especially postmenopausal women)
- Waking up unrested
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth
- Lack of energy
- Low interest or sex drive
- Moodiness or low mood
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Inability to focus
- Memory problems
In addition, other people around you may notice signs while you sleep, such as:
- Stops in breathing
- Restless sleeping
Your doctor may have diagnosed you with the following conditions that are either related to sleep apnea or are confused with it, including:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary artery disease
- Congestive heart failure
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Fatty liver disease
- Sexual dysfunction
- Low testosterone
And over time your risk of complications requiring hospitalization such as heart attack or stroke will increase. If you have several of the above symptoms, signs, or medical conditions, you should talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
If you suspect sleep apnea, it’s important to talk to a sleep doctor or sleep dentist about your risks. There are many potential screening tools that can be used to determine whether you are likely to have sleep apnea. One of the simplest is the STOP-BANG questionnaire, consisting of just 8 items:
- Do you Snore loudly?
- Do you often feel Tired or sleepy during the day?
- Has anyone Observed you stop breathing during your sleep
- Have you been diagnosed with high blood Pressure?
- Is your BMI more than 35?
- Are you Age 50 or more?
- Is your Neck circumference more than 16 inches?
- Is your Gender male?
Although these aren’t the only risk factors for sleep apnea, and many people have sleep apnea without risk factors, this questionnaire is a good place to start determining your risk level.
However, the only way to actually diagnose sleep apnea is with a sleep test that is interpreted by a sleep doctor. For most people, convenient and easy at-home sleep tests work well, but if you have other sleep disorders or if the at-home test doesn’t work, then you may have to take a sleep study at a sleep lab.