Sleep Apnea: What Are The Signs?

Did you know: Only 2 to 3 out of every 100 people with Sleep Apnea have been successfully treated? Sleep apnea is something everyone should be tested for because as it goes untreated, it begins to take years off of your life.

First we’ll look at the differences between normal and abnormal breathing. Normally, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, uvula and tongue. During sleep the muscles relax but normally, the airway stays open. Snoring is created by the vibration of the pharyngeal soft tissues as air passes through an airway that is too small to allow for a smooth, unimpeded flow. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a situation in which the entire upper airway is blocked causing air flow to stop.

For the most part, sleep apnea goes completely undetected since the person suffering is in deep sleep. These numbers may astound you:

1. 9% of men and %4 of women suffer from some sort of  sleep apnea (that’s approximately 30 million Americans!)

2. Less than 10% of those sleep apnea suffers have been diagnosed- leaving 7 million people suffering. The lack of diagnosis of sleep apnea is unprecedented for a disorder as deadly as it is.

Many times, snoring can be a fairy common symptom of sleep apnea. What exactly is snoring, you may ask? Snoring is simply the act of breathing, usually through an open mouth, in such a way as to cause vibration of the pharyngeal tissues.  The reverberating tissues give rise to what can be a loud, unpleasant sound. Studies show that 40-60% of adults snore. 70% of the time, loud snoring is indicative of sleep apnea.

Here are a few other symptoms of sleep apnea:

Daytime Sleepiness, High Blood Pressure, Acid Reflux, Morning Headaches, Diabetes, Sexual Dysfunction, Obesity and Large Neck, Menopause and Mouth Breathing.

Why is excessive sleepiness, lack of energy & fatigue a symptom?
Frequently when your body pulls you out of an apneic event it is accompanied by a micro-arousal. A micro arousal doesn’t necessarily wake you up from sleep, but it pulls you out of whatever sleep stage you were in. The result is a disrupted sleep pattern and insufficient amounts of sleep. OSA patients spend significant amounts of time at night in a ‘fight or flight’ state with elevated blood pressure, heart rate and respiration. People do not feel rested in the morning because they spent the night fighting to breath.
In our office, a sleep apnea screening consists of a few questions and tests that will provide us with the initial information we need to diagnose the issue. Ask for a free sleep apnea consultation during your next cleaning. If you or a loved one suffers from any of the above symptoms, give us a call today or visit us at You’ll be happy you did.