Pauses in breathing, restless sleep, snoring, daytime sleepiness, and waking up to urinate frequently are all some of the more common symptoms related to sleep apnea. However, the list of all symptoms is quite long, and, often, the connection between the symptom and the disorder is a bit obscure. One of the challenges with getting a proper sleep apnea diagnosis is that several of symptoms can be stand-alone conditions or attributed to other ailments.
These are five unexpected symptoms of sleep apnea:
Acid Reflux. Studies have shown that there is an association between sleep apnea and acid reflux. (1,2,3) They are not positive exactly what the link is, but it is believed to be one of two things. Either the sleep-disordered breathing related to sleep apnea creates airway pressure changes that result in acid reflux, or acid reflux results in vocal cord spasms that cause sleep-disordered breathing.
Not everyone who has sleep apnea will experience acid reflux as a symptom. However, if you experience persistent acid reflux (and get little relief when you treat it), it could very well indicate that you have an underlying condition, such as sleep apnea. Being evaluated by a sleep specialist and treated for sleep apnea can be beneficial, as a 2016 study found that CPAP therapy helped to reduce acid reflux symptoms. (3)
Depression. According to several studies, there is a strong relationship between depression and sleep apnea. (4,5,6) It is still uncertain, however, if the conditions are coexisting, or if one condition increases your odds of developing the other. One clear thing, though, is people who are diagnosed with sleep apnea (especially severe cases) are often also diagnosed with depression.
Most people who suffer from depression do not often realize that they may also suffer from sleep apnea. Unfortunately, this means that their depression treatment will not be as successful as it could be if they were being treated for both conditions. Depressive symptoms have been proven to improve significantly with CPAP therapy. (5)
Dry Mouth. One complaint that can be associated with sleep apnea is waking up with a dry mouth regularly. (7) It sort-of makes sense when you think about it. Often, while attempting to continue breathing while they sleep, people with sleep apnea may be prone to sleep with their mouth wide open to try and increase their oxygen flow. When you sleep with your mouth wide open, it causes dry mouth and, sometimes, a sore throat. Unfortunately, this is a sleep apnea symptom that often gets overlooked and is shrugged off as just an annoying aspect of one’s sleep as opposed to something treatable.
Memory Loss. One thing sleep apnea is known to do is disrupt restorative sleep. This is apt to affect both your physical and mental health in negative ways. It is believed that when you sleep your brain takes the day’s events and sorts them into your long or short-term memory. So, it comes as no surprise, then, that sleep apnea can result in memory problems and loss.
Sleep apnea is the interruption of breathing due to airway obstruction. This means that oxygen is being reduced in or completely cut off from the brain multiple times, every night. If sleep apnea goes untreated, this lack of oxygen to the brain, along with chronic fatigue from restless nights, can cause notable brain damage. (8,9)
Morning Headache. Many people with sleep apnea find that they regularly wake in the morning with a headache. When you stop breathing frequently at night, less oxygen gets to your brain. Low oxygen levels can cause blood vessels to widen and result in vascular headaches. These headaches are usually felt on both sides of the head and will ease as you wake up and start to breathe normally again (often within an hour).
Do you feel like you identify with any of the symptoms listed above? If so, you may be suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea. Schedule a sleep consultation at Valley Sleep Center today.
Already on CPAP therapy? Valley Sleep Therapy is your one-stop-shop for CPAP equipment and supplies in Mesa, Arizona. Order your equipment with us online today!
- William C. Orr, Ph.D. (2009), The Effect of Acid Suppression on Upper Airway Anatomy and Obstruction in Patients with Sleep Apnea and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
- Sid Kirchheimer (2003), Sleep Arousal May Result from Reflux, but Could Acid Reflux Result in Sleep Apnea?, WebMD
- M. I. Ullah, MD (2016), Study finds that CPAP therapy reduces acid reflux in people with sleep apnea, American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- National Sleep Foundation, CDC Study Shows Association Between Depression and Sleep Apnea
- Shazia Jehan (2017), Depression, Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Psychosocial Health, Sleep Medicine and Disorders: International Journal
- Sheikh Shoib (2017), Depression as a Manifestation of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice
- Oksenberg A (2006), Dry mouth upon awakening in obstructive sleep apnea, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health
- Brain damage caused by severe sleep apnea is reversible, American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2010), Reduced brain gray matter concentration found in patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea