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Signs And Symptoms Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: What To Know

on August 20, 2020

Up to 3.4% of the Canadian population suffer from Sleep Apnea. 

As a sleep-related breathing disorder, it can have an astounding impact on a person’s health. Not only does it affect sleep quality but it can also lead to the development of other serious conditions such as chronic fatigue, memory impairment and cardiovascular issues. 

Wondering how to tell whether you or someone you love is affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? Continue reading this article to learn more about the signs and symptoms you need to be aware of. 

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is one of the forms of Sleep Apnea experienced by thousands of individuals in Canada. 

This sleep disorder is characterized by a person’s airways being halted repeatedly during sleep for brief periods. The reason why this happens is due to an obstruction in the throat caused by relaxed soft-tissue muscles. 

Each time this occurs it is referred to by sleep specialists as an apneic event. 

During an apneic event, oxygen levels in the blood and lungs decrease causing a signal to be sent to the brain to wake the person up. That is why individuals with OSA often wake up gasping for air during the night. 

Many who have this are often unaware that they suffer from it. However, if left untreated, it can lead to persistent daytime fatigue. 

Most Common OSA Symptoms To Be Aware Of

What are the telltale obstructive sleep apnea symptoms that individuals should be aware of? 

While it can be hard to discern whether you suffer from this disorder unless it’s pointed out to you by a family member or partner, there are other signs that you can look out for. 

The onset of any of the following symptoms may be an indicator that you’re also suffering from OSA. However, it is important to keep in mind that Sleep Apnea can also manifest itself through these conditions. 

  • Hypertension & Heart Disease - High blood pressure and obstructive sleep apnea have long coexisted together. Due to the low oxygen saturation levels that are experienced during an apneic event, this puts pressure on the cardiovascular system. It is not uncommon for OSA patients to also suffer from abnormally high cholesterol levels and heart disease.

  • Weakened Immune System - Those suffering from Sleep Apnea can also experience a weakened immune system. The reason for that is we need to achieve adequate hours of sleep each night in order for our bodies to repair themselves and recuperate. As OSA disrupts sleep quality, it can make us more susceptible to getting viruses and infections. 

  • Type 2 Diabetes - Interestingly, those who suffer from Sleep Apnea are at an increased likelihood of also having type 2 diabetes, and vice versa. Diabetes is caused by a resistance of insulin which can be onset by sleep deprivation. When we suffer from chronic lack of quality sleep, this impacts our stress hormones which release glucose into the bloodstream and raises blood sugar levels. 

The signs of Sleep Apnea should never go ignored. While this disorder in itself is not considered life-threatening, the other health conditions that it can cause or exacerbate can prove to be fatal. 

When left untreated, OSA has the ability to interrupt cardiac function, elevate blood pressure and create an imbalance in brain chemistry. 

Getting CPAP Therapy: What To Expect 

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) is considered the gold standard for treating Sleep Apnea. This form of treatment uses a prescribed airway pressure level that is delivered to a patient via a CPAP mask and machine to prevent the soft tissue in the airways from collapsing during sleep. 

The road from discovering OSA to a long-term CPAP solution can be easy with the right steps in place.

If you suspect that you are suffering from breathing-related issues while sleeping, it is recommended that you seek advice from a sleep specialist. 

They will carry out a sleep study or titration test to determine whether Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the cause and if so, how severe it is. Based on the results, they will prescribe you with a PAP machine that will help you get started with treatment and ensure easier breathing and relief from having a solution to relieve Sleep Apnea.