Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Dec 01, 2022

Unfortunately, a large part of the population is less informed about sleep disorders. For instance, most people regard loud snoring as normal. However, sometimes loud snoring could signify a serious airway disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where an individual’s breathing suddenly stops and begins repeatedly during sleep. Sleep apnea is most common in obese or overweight individuals and older men, but can affect anyone.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnes and happens due to airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common and happens when the brain fails to send proper signals to breathing muscles. Lastly, complex sleep apnea occurs when one has both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

How does Obstructive sleep apnea happen?

OSA happens when the throat muscles relax excessively when sleeping, blocking the airway and causing breathing to stop. These muscles support different mouth parts, including your soft palate, uvula, tongue, and tonsils. When the throat muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes completely, hampering your breathing for a few seconds. This lowers your oxygen levels in the blood, causing a buildup of carbon dioxide.

Fortunately, the brain senses this dysfunction and rouses you from sleep to reopen the airway. Usually, the awakening is too brief that you might not remember it. You can also awaken with sudden shortness of breath that corrects itself almost instantly. These episodes of airway obstruction can happen multiple times each hour, all night long. A narrowed airway can also cause your throat muscles to vibrate when breathing, causing a horse sound or snoring.

Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea

  • Loud snoring
  • Abruptly awakenings accompanied by choking or gasping
  • Morning headache
  • Episodes when breathing stops during sleep (can be reported by your sleep partner)
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Frequently waking with a sore throat
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
  • Hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness)
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention during the day
  • Irritability
  • Feeling sleepy during waking hours
  • Mood changes like irritability, depression, and anxiety
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Sexual dysfunction or decreased libido

OSA symptoms in children

  • Poor school performance
  • Bedwetting
  • Learning and behavioral disorders (attention deficits, hyperactivity)
  • Excessive night sweating
  • Unusual sleeping positions like sleeping on the knees and hand
  • Sluggishness, often mistaken for laziness in the classroom

Unfortunately, since sleep apnea happens during sleep, most people with OSA aren’t aware they have it. Most people learn it through their bed partners or daytime symptoms. Be sure to seek sleep apnea treatment near you if you or your child have these symptoms.

Risk factors

While anyone can develop OSA, certain factors can increase your risk. These include:

  • Obesity or excess weight. Thick tissues around the upper airway can increase the possibility of airway obstruction during sleep, affecting your breath. Conditions associated with obesity, like hypothyroidism, can also cause OSA.
  • Age. The risk of OSA increases with age but tends to level off after the 60s and 70s
  • Gender. OSA is more common in older males than female
  • Narrowed airway. Someone can naturally have narrow airways. Your tonsils or adenoids can also enlarge, narrowing your airway.
  • Underlying health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma
  • Smoking
  • Family history of sleep apnea


If not treated, OSA can cause serious complications like:

  • Cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, strokes, heart failure, and heart attacks
  • Death ( if there is an underlying heart disease)
  • Complications with medications and surgery
  • Eye problems like glaucoma
  • Sleep-deprived partners
  • Memory issues

Treatments for OSA

Based on your symptoms, our prosthodontist near you can recommend the following treatments:

Conservative treatments

  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding alcohol and drug abuse
  • Sleeping on the side
  • Keeping your head elevated when sleeping
  • Nasal sprays or strips to manage nasal congestion and sinus problems

Mechanical therapy

  • CPAP machine
  • Bi-Level PAP
  • Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV)

Dental appliances

  • Sleep apnea night guard
  • Tongue-retaining devices


  • Somnoplasty
  • Tonsillectomy
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
  • Nasal surgery
  • Mandibular/maxillary advancement surgery

Schedule an appointment today to be tested in the comfort of your own home

Do you suspect you or your child might have sleep apnea? Contact Northwest Prosthodontics for sleep apnea testing and treatment in Calgary.

Call-Now Book Now