Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

By  , Expert Content
Mar 29, 2012

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious chronic sleep disorder, which causes reduction or pause in breathing (airflow) when the person sleeps. It occurs commonly in adults and is rare in children. Many people are not aware that they have sleep apnea as the symptoms occur only during sleep. The signs and symptoms are usually noticed by family member/s and/or bed partner.

The three types of sleep apnea are central sleep apnea (CSA), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and mixed sleep apnea (both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea).  Read to know the signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea in adults and children.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in adults

Sleep apnea remains undiagnosed in many people as the symptoms occur in sleep and the person is not aware of them and when you go to the doctor’s office, you don’t really have perceivable symptoms and there are no blood tests for the condition.

Important symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Loud and chronic snoring while sleeping (which disturb your sleep and that of the others).
  • Choking, snorting or gasping during sleep.
  • Long pauses in breathing during sleep.
  • Feeling tired and excessive daytime sleepiness (regardless of how much time you spend in bed), which may cause you to fall asleep during working, watching television or even driving.

Other common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are:

  • Dry mouth or sore throat on waking up in the morning.
  • Headache in morning.
  • Restless or fitful sleep.
  • Waking up feeling out of breath.
  • Not feeling fresh in morning (regardless of how much time you spend in bed).
  • Insomnia or frequent night time sleep disturbances.
  • Need to go frequently to bathroom during the night.
  • Increased forgetfulness and difficulty in concentrating.
  • Variations in mood, irritability or depression.

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, you can ask your partner/spouse to observe your sleep habits or consider getting a home-based sleep test.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in children

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea in children. It can be difficult to recognise.

Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in children include:

  • Continuous loud snoring.
  • Breathing through mouth instead of nose.
  • Sleeping in strange positions.
  • Excessive perspiration at night.
  • Night terrors and bedwetting.
  • Hyperactivity or inattention.
  • Delayed growth and development.
  • Poor school performance.
  • Irritable, angry or aggressive behaviour.

If your child has one or more symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, consult a paediatrician, who specialises in sleep disorders.


Read more articles on Sleep Apnea Signs and Symptoms

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