Most people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed. There are many reasons why this is the case, but a critical barrier to getting people tested for sleep apnea is knowing when they have symptoms of the condition.
However, as we know at Firouzian Dentistry in Columbus, OH, it’s not always easy to get people to see that they have sleep apnea symptoms. It’s essential to take the time to overcome these barriers to get a good insight into your sleep apnea risk.
You Might Not Know the Symptoms
Of course, you might not recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea if you don’t know what they are. Be on the lookout for symptoms like:
- Waking up feeling like you didn’t get any sleep
- Being sleepy all-day
- Dozing off at work or while driving
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Morning headaches
- Sore jaw or teeth in the morning
- Frequently waking up to urinate at night
- Depression, irritability, or other mood problems
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty remembering or focusing
These are just the most common symptoms that people tend to notice. We know that many of them seem relatively subtle, but it’s important to pay attention to them. If you experience several of these symptoms, it’s time to talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about sleep apnea.
Some Symptoms Occur While Sleeping
Another problem with sleep apnea symptoms is that many of them occur while you’re sleeping. It’s hard to track these symptoms, especially if you don’t have a sleeping partner. You want to watch out for these overnight symptoms:
- Restless sleep
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Choking or gasping during sleep
These symptoms can be hard to notice. If you have a sleeping partner, ask them if they notice any of these symptoms. If you’re by yourself, consider using technology to help you assess your symptoms. You can use your smartphone for sounds like snoring, choking, or gasping. Set it up on your bedside table so that it starts recording when it hears noises, a pretty standard feature on note-taking apps.
For restless sleep, you can use a smartwatch or fitness tracker. These worn devices can highlight how often you’re not sleeping well, giving you a good insight into restless sleep and other sleep problems. It isn’t as good as polysomnography or a home sleep test, but it can help you establish when to consider getting an actual sleep test.
You Might Think the Symptoms Are Normal
Many people explain away sleep apnea symptoms as normal. We all only live our own lives, so whatever is happening in our lives seems like the usual way to live. For example, it’s easy to dismiss daytime sleepiness by saying everybody’s tired. I’m no different. However, you might be different. Your tiredness might be extreme, related to your untreated sleep apnea.
Take the time to talk to others about potential sleep apnea symptoms. Mention that you’re tired, for example, and see how other people respond. See if their sleepiness is like yours and if they fall asleep in the car or at work as you do.
You Might Mask the Symptoms
Another reason people tend not to see their sleep apnea symptoms is that they can mask them. One of the most common ways people mask sleep apnea symptoms is using caffeine and other stimulants to help themselves get and stay awake. Or perhaps you take pain medications like ibuprofen regularly. You might not have a sense of the extent of your symptoms or even how often you’re taking medication.
To get a true sense of your symptoms, you might stop trying to mask them. Go a week or two without any caffeine or other stimulants. Also, try going without pain medication for a similar amount of time. If you don’t think you can do that, it’s a good sign that you have sleep apnea.
However, if you want to track your caffeine intake and medication usage, you can use a journal to keep track of your caffeine intake and use of pain medication. There are many good apps for tracking these. If you’re relying on multiple caffeinated beverages and taking pain medication more days than not, it’s time to talk to your doctor or a sleep dentist about sleep apnea.
You Might Not Admit the Symptoms
Finally, many people don’t want to admit that they might have sleep apnea. It only takes a little research to show that the people most at risk for sleep apnea are older, overweight men. This can make it feel like sleep apnea is a sign that we’re older than we want to be and less healthy. Therefore, we dismiss sleep apnea symptoms and say that can’t be what we’re experiencing.
While it’s true that older, overweight men are at the highest risk for sleep apnea, there are many otherwise healthy, slender young women who develop sleep apnea. Don’t let preconceived notions keep you from getting diagnosis and treatment for this potentially deadly condition.
Get Assessed for Sleep Apnea in Columbus, OH
Take the time to consider whether you might have sleep apnea symptoms honestly. Follow our advice to get past limitations that keep you from seeing the unmistakable symptoms of sleep apnea that mean you should get tested for the condition.
If you want to talk about your symptoms or arrange for a sleep test, please call (614) 683-4640 or email us today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian in Columbus, OH.