Common Symptoms and Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If there is a group of 15-20 people in a room, it is likely that at least one of those people have obstructive sleep apnea. This condition can be detrimental to sleep quality and overall health. Many people live with sleep apnea for years without getting their condition diagnosed. In the meanwhile, they may notice their health and quality of life diminishing. Knowing the symptoms and causes of OSA can help you recognize this condition in yourself or others to get treatment to prevent health complications.

Symptoms of OSA

If you know about OSA, you probably are aware that snoring is the most common symptom. Most people with OSA snore, as both OSA and snoring are caused by obstructed breathing. However, snoring alone is not a clear indicator of sleep apnea. Those with OSA will usually have a combination of symptoms including:

  • Frequently waking throughout the night. People with untreated OSA report frequently interruptions in sleep, often to urinate. They may equate it to bladder or prostate issues, but it may be related to their sleep disorder.
  • Morning headaches. Reduced oxygen throughout the night and poor sleep quality can result in headaches upon waking. Those with OSA are also more likely to have TMD/TMJ, which can also cause headaches.
  • Fatigue. Even if you are in bed sleeping for 6-8 hours a night, if the sleep quality is poor, you will feel fatigue. Tiredness or fatigue is common amongst those with untreated OSA. Fatigue can be physical or mental, and difficulty concentrating or “brain fog” is common with those with OSA.
  • High blood pressure. The shallow breathing and pauses in breathing can impact the cardiovascular system. OSA is often accompanies by high blood pressure and other heart-related conditions.

When a combination of these symptoms is present, it is important to see a doctor. There are effective treatments available, including CPAP therapy, oral appliance therapy and in severe cases, oral surgery.

Causes (Risk Factors) of OSA

There is not a specific cause of obstructive sleep apnea, but there are risk factors. While a person of any gender, body type or age can have OSA, there are those at higher risk. These higher risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Male gender
  • Smokers
  • Larger neck size
  • Larger tonsils or tongue
  • Bruxism and TMJ/TMD often accompany OSA
  • Those with chronic sinusitis, asthma or other respiratory conditions

If you recognize these symptoms and risk factors and believe you may have OSA, seek medical diagnosis. With an accurate diagnosis, you can seek treatment to improve your sleep and health. Our team at Marietta Sleep can help you find the right treatment option. We accept many insurance plans at our office that offer coverage for sleep apnea treatment.