Up to 20 percent of adults experience sleep apnea, and most don’t even know it. You or your spouse might occasionally stop breathing while sleeping, but why should you care if you haven’t even noticed it? Because apnea is related to several other serious health conditions, it might be a warning sign that deserves more of your attention.
Those who experience sleep apnea are more likely to have high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and face an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. Studies have shown that adults who suffer from sleep apnea are more than twice as likely to die prematurely than those who don’t have the condition.
You might be surprised to learn that aside from your sleeping partner noticing the condition, several other seemingly unrelated symptoms actually point toward an increased likelihood of sleep apnea. Take note if you experience any of these signs:
- You wake up with a headache in the morning.
- You’re waking up frequently during the night.
- You experience dry mouth in the morning.
- You feel fatigued throughout the day.
- Your blood pressure readings are high.
- You experience erectile dysfunction.
If any of those sound familiar, sleep apnea might be the cause of your symptoms. Talking to your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea can be important, because you need to correctly treat the root of the problem. For example, some people with insomnia are prescribed anxiety medications to help them sleep, but those medications can actually make their apnea worse!
The good news is that sleep apnea is treatable, and many people who use CPAP machines are able to reverse their symptoms. Recent improvements to the machines have made them much quieter and easier to use. Other treatments, such as an implant that keeps your airways open during sleep, are also available.
If you suspect that you might be suffering from sleep apnea, a proper diagnosis can help you sleep better. But more importantly, you and your doctor should follow up on checking for related conditions that can put your health and life at risk.