For many people, snoring is annoying. For some, though, it can be just one sign of a much more serious condition called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when you stop and start breathing during your sleep. This can happen due to issues with the muscles in your airway, or, less commonly, due to your brain not sending the proper signals to your breathing muscles.
In addition to snoring, there are many potential symptoms:
- Breathing shallowly, gasping, or choking upon waking up
- Restlessness or frequently waking up at night
- Fatigue from poor sleep
- Depression or anxiety
- Dry mouth or sore throat on waking up
- Sweating at night
Sleep apnea can cause serious health problems. High blood pressure, heart problems, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are just a few potential complications. Some people are more at risk than others. People who smoke, use alcohol or sedatives, are older, or are overweight are at increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
If your doctor suspects you may have sleep apnea, they may do a physical exam or have you complete a sleep study. Depending on the severity and type of sleep apnea, treatments range from lifestyle changes such as losing weight or stopping smoking to getting a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask to help you breathe (and sleep) deep.