Often people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea have a significant narrowing of the airway that sometimes causes a complete reduction of airflow to the lungs. Their brain will recognize the lack of air and trigger an arousal response. They will then either partially or completely awaken during these periods. Some people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea  can receive up to 600 arousal triggers in a single evening. Most are completely unaware when this happens even though their sleep has been completely interrupted.

Other symptoms and causes of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Intellectual deterioration
  • Poor judgement/concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability and/or depression
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Chest pain during the night (nocturnal angina or nocturnal pectoris)
  • Urinating during the night (nocturia)
  • Obesity
  • Type-II diabetes
  • Large neck/girth (>17″ in men, >16″ in women)
  • Narrow airways (oropharyngeal crowding)
  • Morning headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction

The Risks Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can create secondary risks related to the lack of sleep. Workplace accidents, motor vehicle crashes, and falling asleep at inappropriate moments are some of the secondary risks.

Primary risks relate to the your health. Obstructive Sleep Apnea has been linked to life threatening conditions such as:

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • congestive heart failure

Here is a simple self-assessment tool you can do yourself. If you check two or more of these symptoms, contact your family physician to discuss your sleep wellness:

  1. My snoring is louder than when I speak
  2. I sometimes stop breathing when I sleep
  3. When I watch TV, sit in a meeting, or wait in traffic, I start to feel drowsy, like I’m about to fall asleep
  4. I have a history of high blood pressure or type-II diabetes
  5. I sometimes feel lethargic, forgetful, and unable to concentrate
  6. After sleeping for 8 hours, I wake up feeling unrested or with headaches

If you have two or more of the following symptoms, contact us or your family physician to discuss how you can improve your sleep wellness.


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