Since you are asleep when it happens, identifying sleep apnea on your own can be exceptionally difficult and even more so for dentists and doctors. It’s the same reason you never really hear yourself snore. As such, it’s a good idea to ask your bed partner to observe you while you sleep and if they notice any labored breathing, snoring and/or a cyclical cessation of breathing followed by a loud snore, choke or gasp as you resume breathing, you should book yourself an appointment with your doctor or dentist immediately. If you sleep alone, you can leave out an audio recorder to monitor your breathing. Here are some of the major symptoms of sleep apnea:
  • A loud and constant snoring, most nights,
  • Periodic gasping, snorting or choking while asleep,
  • Short periods of breathing cessation (stopping),
  • Waking up during the night feeling like you’re struggling for breath,
  • Fatigue, lethargy and low energy levels during day, even if you went to bed early the night before.
Many of the symptoms of sleep apnea are related to the fact that your brain is being starved of oxygen and so it “shocks” your body awake to remedy the problem. This effectively prevents the brain from slipping into a deep sleep cycle, which is crucial for proper rest and rejuvenation. As such, the following signs and symptoms could also indicate that you have sleep apnea:
  • Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth,
  • Waking up frequently at night, or difficulty sleeping,
  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness,
  • Going to the bathroom several times in a night,
  • Morning headaches,
  • Moodiness, depression and irritability, which is uncharacteristic for you,
  • A fitful or restless sleep,
  • Impotence and low libido.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms In Children

While obstructive sleep apnea is far more common in older adults, it’s not unheard of for children to suffer from this condition, especially those with an enlarged tongue, allergies, adenoids, malocclusion (bad bite) or tonsils. Identifying obstructive sleep apnea in children is a little trickier, although the following symptoms seem to be fairly consistent:
  • Consistent loud snoring
  • Bedwetting
  • Strange sleeping positions
  • Excessive sweating at night
  • Night terrors
These sleep apnea symptoms are in addition to those mentioned above, particularly daytime listlessness, fatigue and lethargy. If you suspect your child has sleep apnea, it’s important to consult with your dentist or pediatrician as the symptoms could have a debilitating effect on his or her ability to learn, socialize and mature!

How Do I Know It’s Not Just Snoring?

Snoring on its own is not a surefire indicator of sleep apnea, although consistent and loud snoring, night-after-night, along with the other symptoms mentioned above are a fairly good sign. If your bed partner has told you that you are a loud snorer, your next frame of reference should be how you feel during the day. If you have plenty of energy, concentrate well and find yourself revitalized after sleeping, you probably don’t have sleep apnea. Because it constantly forces you awake, or at least into a semi-conscious state, sleep apnea interferes with your deep sleep cycle and this leaves you feeling tired, fatigued, lethargic and forgetful.

Current Models for Patient Screening Are Highly Selective! You Could Have Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea!

The reason there are so many people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is because only those who are suspected to have it are tested for it! In the absence of any direct or debilitating symptoms, patients can live with sleep apnea for years without ever understanding why it is they suffer from daytime lethargy or even anxiety and depression. The International Academy of Sleep endeavors to change this by teaching dentists to screen patients as a standard in-practice service. If a patient is suspected to have sleep apnea, he or she will then be referred to his or her physician for a diagnosis, since only medical doctors are legally allowed to diagnose OSA. Our program empowers dentists to develop a great network of healthy relationships with doctors in which patients with diagnosed sleep apnea are referred back to the dentist for the fitting of an oral appliance that will – in most mild to moderate cases – provide relief from this condition. If you’re a dentist and would like to learn more about our ADA-approved educational programs that will enable you to successfully and profitably add sleep treatment to your dental practice, check out the following links:
  • CE Sleep Apnea Seminars for Dentists
  • Online Educational Portal, Practice Profit