Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repetitive interruptions in breathing during sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Loud and Persistent Snoring: One of the most recognizable signs of sleep apnea is loud, chronic snoring. The snoring is often disruptive and may include gasping or choking sounds. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone with sleep apnea snores.
Episodes of Breathing Cessation: Sleep apnea is characterized by episodes of breathing cessation, known as apneas. During these episodes, a person temporarily stops breathing or has significantly reduced airflow. These apneas can last for seconds to minutes and may occur repeatedly throughout the night. The individual may awaken briefly following an apnea, often with a snort or gasp, before falling back asleep.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: Due to frequent nighttime awakenings and disrupted sleep, individuals with sleep apnea often experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). This persistent fatigue can lead to difficulties concentrating, irritability, and impaired daytime functioning. People with sleep apnea may also be at higher risk for accidents, especially when operating vehicles or heavy machinery.
It's important to note that sleep apnea can vary in severity, and not all individuals will experience the same degree of symptoms. Some people may not be aware of their symptoms because the awakenings during apneas are brief and may not be remembered.
Additionally, sleep apnea can have significant health consequences beyond these primary symptoms, including an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, hypertension, and metabolic disorders.
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