What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 19, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have always snored, but lately my husband is telling me it is worse and that it sounds like I stop breathing at times. This has all happened in the last year and I have put on some weight. I'm wondering if this is just some heavier snoring due to the weight gain or something more serious. How can I know if I have sleep apnea or something else? Is there anything that is only a sleep apnea symptom or some way to know if it's just me snoring and being tired because my life is busy?

Expert Answers

Steven Y. Park, M.D., is a board-certified otolaryngologist specializing in diagnosing and treating sleep-breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea, snoring, and upper airway resistance syndrome. Park is a blogger (doctorstevenpark.com) and author of the book Sleep, Interrupted: A Physician Reveals the #1 Reason Why So Many of Us Are Sick and Tired.

What you describe is a common symptom of sleep apnea. Snoring, made worse by even slight weight gain, with progression into breathing pauses, is a typical symptom of sleep apnea. Poor sleep can aggravate weight gain, and weight gain aggravates sleep apnea. You don't have to even snore or be overweight to have significant obstructive sleep apnea. Some of the other common symptoms of sleep apnea include: chronic daytime fatigue or drowsiness, inability to focus or concentrate, headaches, sinus pain and pressure, poor digestion, frequent trips to the bathroom, and nasal congestion. Untreated sleep apnea can cause or aggravate anxiety, depression, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, seizures, impotence, car accidents, and early death for any reason.

The best way to find out what's going on is to see a sleep doctor and to undergo a formal sleep study.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Snoring Is Not Necessarily Sleep Apnea.Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, the usual first step is to discuss your suspicions with your primary care physician. some symptoms : Snoring with pauses in breathing (apnea)

Excessive daytime drowsiness Gasping or choking during sleep Restless sleep Problem with excess weight