Signs and Symptoms
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed largely because the direct symptoms are witnessed only by bedmates, and the indirect symptoms, those related to sleep deprivation, can be vague or attributable to many possible causes (Ho 2011). The most common sleep apnea symptoms include (Lal 2012; Mayo Clinic 2012; Karacan 1995):
- Snoring. Loud snoring often indicates the presence of sleep apnea, and it is more pronounced in obstructive sleep apnea. Apneas may also interrupt snoring and cause the patient to snort.
- Pauses in breathing. Sleep apnea often causes pauses in breathing during sleep that are noticed by another person. Someone with sleep apnea may pause breathing for a period during sleep then gasp for air.
- Intermittent waking and insomnia. It may be difficult to remain asleep. Patients may also awake suddenly with shortness of breath.
- Dry mouth, sore throat, and headache upon waking.
- Fatigue and excessive daytime drowsiness. Patients with sleep apnea are susceptible to falling asleep at work and while driving.
- Attention, learning and memory difficulties. This can include difficulty concentrating, reasoning, and paying attention.
- Feeling moody, depressed, or irritable.
- Sexual dysfunction. Lack of libido and impotence are common concerns in people with sleep apnea.