Major Signs and Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Often the person with OSA is not the first to recognize the signs. The bed partner or a person who observes the patient while sleeping is often the first to notice an issue. Many people who suffer from OSA do not have any sleep complaints. One of the most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea is loud and chronic (ongoing) snoring. Pauses may occur in the snoring. Choking or gasping may follow the pauses. The snoring usually is loudest when you sleep on your back; it might be less noisy when you turn on your side. You might not snore every night. Over time, however, the snoring can happen more often and get louder. You are asleep when the snoring or gasping happens. You likely won’t know that you’re having problems breathing or be able to judge how severe the problem is. A family member or bed partner often will notice these problems before you do.

The most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, depression, or irritability
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent awakening at night to urinate
  • Restlessness during sleep
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Snoring (may or may not be present with OSA)
  • Sudden awakenings with a sensation of gasping or choking
  • Stopping breathing while sleeping
  • Difficulty getting up in the mornings

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea

Another common sign of sleep apnea is fighting sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving. You may find yourself rapidly falling asleep during the quiet moments of the day when you’re not active. Even if you don’t have daytime sleepiness, speak with your doctor if you have problems breathing during sleep.

sleep apnea in children

In children, sleep apnea may not be as obvious. Symptoms can include bedwetting, choking or drooling, excessive hyperactivity, poor school performance, mouth breathing and angry or hostile behavior.


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