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What Are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

Are you tired all the time, even after a full night’s sleep? Do you wake up with a dry mouth and pounding headache? These could be signs of sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder.

In this article, we’ll explore the warning signs, risk factors, and health effects of untreated sleep apnea. We’ll also discuss how sleep apnea is diagnosed and treated, including sleep studies and CPAP machines.

Don’t ignore the signs – seek medical help for a better quality of life.

Key Takeaways
  • Loud snoring, gasping, choking, and pauses in breathing during sleep are warning signs of sleep apnea.
  • Other symptoms noticed by others include restlessness during sleep and dry mouth in the morning.
  • Risk factors for sleep apnea include being male, having a family history of sleep apnea, having a thicker neck circumference, being overweight or obese, and being 40 years old or older.
  • Untreated sleep apnea can lead to chronic fatigue, brain fog, high blood pressure, weight gain, headaches, and metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes.

Different Types of Sleep Apnea

A man and woman displaying warning signs of sleep apnea while in bed.

When it comes to sleep apnea, there are different types that you should be aware of.

The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, where your throat or breathing passages tend to collapse during sleep.

There are also central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea, each with their own unique characteristics and treatment options.

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by repetitive episodes of partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep.

This obstruction leads to disruptions in breathing and can cause a person to stop breathing for brief periods, often resulting in loud snoring or choking sounds as they gasp for air. These interruptions in breathing can occur multiple times throughout the night and can last for seconds to minutes, leading to fragmented and poor-quality sleep.

OSA is commonly associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating during the day. It is also linked to an increased risk of various health issues, including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes.

Central sleep apnea

Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs due to a physical blockage in the airway, central sleep apnea is caused by a malfunction in the brain’s control of breathing.

This condition can be caused by various factors, including heart failure, stroke, brainstem injury, or certain medications.

Individuals with central sleep apnea may experience excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, morning headaches, and frequent awakenings during the night.
Surviving Sleep Apnea

Complex sleep apnea

Complex sleep apnea, also known as mixed sleep apnea, is a type of sleep apnea that combines both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

This condition occurs when there is a failure of the brain to properly initiate breathing during sleep, as well as an obstruction in the airway.

It is a challenging condition to diagnose and treat, as it requires a thorough evaluation of the underlying causes and appropriate treatment approaches.

Complex sleep apnea often requires a combination of therapies, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), oral appliances, and lifestyle modifications. With proper management, individuals with complex sleep apnea can experience improved sleep quality and overall well-being.

What are the Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

A man and woman peacefully resting in bed.

Wake up tired? Snore loudly? Gasping or choking at night? These could be signs of sleep apnea.

Signs You Might Have Sleep Apnea

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.


If you notice that you frequently snore loudly during sleep, it could be a potential warning sign of sleep apnea. Snoring is one of the key symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where your breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep.

Other warning signs of sleep apnea include gasping, choking, and pauses in breathing. It’s important to pay attention to these symptoms and seek medical help for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Restless Sleep

You may experience frequent tossing and turning during the night, which can be a sign of restless sleep associated with sleep apnea.

Restless sleep is one of the warning signs of sleep apnea. It can disrupt your sleep health and have negative effects on your overall well-being.

Tired during the day or unexplained exhaustion

Feeling tired during the day can be a significant sign of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep, leading to fragmented and poor-quality sleep. These interruptions, called apneas, can last for a few seconds to a minute and can occur multiple times throughout the night.

As a result, individuals with sleep apnea often wake up feeling exhausted and groggy, even after a seemingly full night’s sleep. This persistent fatigue can impact their daily activities, including work performance, concentration, and overall quality of life.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure

A man and a child displaying warning signs of sleep apnea while working on a laptop in the kitchen.

There is a significant link between high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. These pauses can last for a few seconds to minutes, and they can occur multiple times throughout the night. The recurring interruptions in breathing during sleep can lead to oxygen deprivation and trigger a physiological stress response in the body.

This stress response can cause an increase in blood pressure levels, leading to hypertension or high blood pressure. Additionally, the repeated episodes of low oxygen levels during sleep can also contribute to the development of hypertension.

Morning headache

Having a morning headache can be a potential warning sign that you may be experiencing sleep apnea.

Here are four key points to understand about morning headaches and sleep apnea:

  1. Morning headache is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea.
  2. Sleep apnea causes interruptions in breathing during sleep, leading to oxygen deprivation and morning headaches.
  3. Morning headaches can range in severity, with severe sleep apnea often resulting in more frequent and intense headaches.
If you experience morning headaches, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.
Surviving Sleep Apnea


Do you experience any difficulties maintaining an erection, or is it just a result of aging? It’s important to consider that impotence can be caused by various factors, including underlying medical conditions.

One potential cause to explore is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, which can lead to decreased oxygen levels in the body. This can affect erectile function and overall sexual health.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can often be a telltale sign of sleep apnea, as the condition causes decreased saliva production and can leave one feeling parched upon waking.

This persistent oral dryness can eventually lead to dental issues that can be remedied with effective CPAP treatment using a CPAP machine with a humidifier.

Risk Factors for Developing Sleep Apnea

There are a number of risk factors for developing sleep apnea.


As you age, your risk of developing sleep apnea increases, especially if you have a family history of the condition. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where you intermittently stop breathing while you’re asleep. It can be accompanied by loud snoring, gasping, and choking sounds.

Age is a significant factor in the development of sleep apnea. Here’s why:

  1. Muscle tone: As you age, the muscles in your throat and tongue may become weaker, making it easier for them to collapse and obstruct your airway during sleep.
  2. Weight gain: Age-related weight gain can contribute to the development of sleep apnea, as excess weight can put pressure on your airway and make it harder to breathe.
  3. Hormonal changes: Changes in hormone levels that occur with age can affect the muscles and tissues in your airway, increasing the likelihood of sleep apnea.
  4. Decreased sleep quality: Age-related changes in sleep patterns, such as lighter sleep and more frequent awakenings, can contribute to the development of sleep apnea.

It’s important to be aware of these risk factors and seek medical attention if you experience symptoms or if you have a family history of sleep apnea. Don’t ignore the signs, as addressing sleep apnea can significantly improve your overall health and quality of life.


You should be aware that gender plays a role in the risk factors for developing sleep apnea. While both men and women can develop sleep apnea, it’s more common in men.

However, it’s important to note that women often experience different warning signs and symptoms than men. Common symptoms of sleep apnea in both genders include loud snoring, dry mouth in the morning, morning headaches, insomnia, and daytime sleepiness.

Women may also experience other warning signs such as restless sleep, gasping, and choking.
Surviving Sleep Apnea


BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a numerical value calculated based on an individual’s height and weight. It is commonly used as an indicator to assess whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.

When it comes to being overweight, having a higher BMI can increase the risk of various health issues, including sleep apnea.

Excess weight, particularly around the neck area, can contribute to the narrowing of the airway, leading to disruptions in breathing patterns during sleep. Therefore, maintaining a healthy BMI through proper diet, regular exercise, and weight management can help reduce the risk of developing sleep apnea.

Family History

If there’s a family history of sleep apnea, it increases your risk of developing the sleep disorder. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of sleep apnea, especially if you have a family history.


Making certain lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and exercising regularly, can help reduce the risk of developing sleep apnea. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of sleep apnea and take action if you experience any of them.

People with sleep apnea may exhibit different symptoms depending on the type of sleep apnea they have. However, one common warning sign is snoring. If you or your partner notice loud and persistent snoring, it may be a sign of sleep apnea. Other warning signs include gasping, choking, and pauses in breathing during sleep.

Dangerous Health Effects of Sleep Apnea

Ignoring your sleep apnea symptoms can have dangerous health effects. High blood pressure, daytime sleepiness leading to accidents, heart failure or cardiovascular complications, stroke, and type 2 diabetes are just a few of the potential risks.

Don’t ignore your sleep apnea symptoms

Don’t underestimate the potential risks and impact of untreated sleep apnea symptoms on your overall health. It’s important to recognize the warning signs and seek proper diagnosis and treatment.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the most common type of sleep apnea where your throat or breathing passages collapse during sleep.
  2. Feeling Tired: Untreated sleep apnea can leave you feeling tired and fatigued throughout the day, affecting your work performance and overall quality of life.
  3. Diagnosis and Treatment: It’s crucial to undergo a sleep study for proper diagnosis. Treatment options include using a CPAP machine or an implantable medical device called Inspire.
  4. Health Risks: Ignoring sleep apnea can lead to long-term health complications, such as increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, impaired cognitive function, decreased quality of life, and higher risk of accidents due to daytime sleepiness.

Take control of your health and seek treatment for sleep apnea to improve your overall well-being.

Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea

An older man consults a doctor for the warning signs of sleep apnea.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, diagnosing and treating it’s crucial for your health.

A sleep study is the definitive way to diagnose sleep apnea and determine the severity of your condition.

Treatment options include continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) therapy and oral appliance therapy, both of which can help alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of sleep.

Sleep apnea testing

Getting tested for sleep apnea typically involves several steps.

Firstly, you would need to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a primary care physician or a sleep specialist, who will evaluate your symptoms and medical history. Based on their assessment, they may recommend a sleep study, which can be conducted either at a sleep clinic or in the comfort of your own home.

During the study, various sensors and monitors will be attached to your body to measure parameters like breathing patterns, heart rate, oxygen levels, and brain activity.

Once the study is complete, the collected data will be analyzed by a sleep specialist to determine if you have sleep apnea.

If diagnosed, treatment options such as lifestyle changes, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, or oral appliances may be suggested to manage your condition effectively. It is important to follow the healthcare professional’s guidance and attend regular follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and ensure optimal management of sleep apnea.

Continuous positive airflow pressure (CPAP) therapy

There are various treatment options available for sleep apnea, and one effective option is to consider using a CPAP machine for continuous positive airflow pressure therapy. CPAP therapy is commonly used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where the throat or breathing passages collapse during sleep, causing pauses in breathing.

By delivering a constant flow of air pressure, the CPAP machine helps keep the airway open, allowing for uninterrupted and restorative sleep. It is important to note that CPAP therapy may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with central sleep apnea.

Pros of CPAP TherapyCons of CPAP Therapy
Improves sleep qualityRequires regular use
Reduces daytime sleepinessMay cause discomfort or skin irritation
Lowers the risk of health complicationsCan be noisy
Non-invasive and safeMay take time to adjust to
Table: Pros and cons of CPAP Therapy for treating sleep apnea

Oral appliance therapy

To effectively treat your sleep apnea, consider exploring the option of oral appliance therapy. This treatment involves wearing a custom-fitted device in your mouth that helps keep your airway open during sleep. Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive and effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

Oral appliance therapy can help improve your sleep quality and alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. Consult with a sleep specialist to determine if this treatment option is suitable for you.

Photo of author
As a long term Sleep Apnea sufferer, Sean has researched the topic extensively and tried several different therapies and lifestyle changes with varying degrees of success. His efforts now are focused on helping people get diagnosed early and begin treating their Sleep Apnea to avoid long-term health impacts.

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