Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It is known to cause breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.
There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is OSA. This type occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. A common symptom of OSA is snoring.
Various treatments for OSA are available. One treatment involves using a CPAP device that uses positive pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep. Another option is a mouthpiece that pushes your lower jaw forward during sleep, thereby opening your airway. In some cases, surgery can also be an option.
Symptoms of OSA include:
• Excessive tiredness during the daytime
• Snoring at night
• Witnessing stopped breathing while sleeping
• Forcible waking by gasping or choking
• Waking to a dry mouth or sore throat
• Morning headaches
• Difficulty daytime concentration
• Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
• High blood pressure
• Night sweats
• Decreased libido
When to see a doctor
Consult a medical professional if you experience any of the following:
• Snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or that of others
• Waking up gasping or choking
• Intermittent pauses in your breathing while sleeping
• Excessive daytime drowsiness, causing you to fall asleep while working, reading, or even driving a vehicle
Many people may not think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who snores has OSA.
Be sure to talk to your doctor if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that’s punctuated by periods of silence. With obstructive sleep apnea, snoring usually is the loudest when you sleep on your back, and it quiets when you turn on your side.
Ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you chronically fatigued, sleepy, and irritable. Excessive daytime drowsiness may be due to other disorders, such as narcolepsy.