If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, then you may be very aware of the clear symptoms that accompany this common medical condition.
Daytime sleepiness and fatigue, loud snoring, and early morning headaches are all prominent symptoms of sleep apnea and are reported in a majority of sleep apnea cases.
But did you know that because sleep apnea is so individualized, there may be other surprising symptoms that pop up to indicate there’s a problem?
Be on the lookout for these more unusual but no less essential signs that have been tied to sleep apnea. From digestive issues to new and nervous habits, there are a number of surprising ways that the symptoms of sleep apnea can creep into our daily lives.
If you get frequent bouts of heartburn at night, and you’re not eating a lot of unhealthy foods or drinking alcoholic beverages, sleep apnea may be to blame.
People who have sleep apnea tend to have a weaker esophagus, which is a muscular tube that leads from the throat to the stomach, and which prevents stomach contents, including acid, from entering the throat.
When the esophagus is having trouble keeping up and functioning, it’s far more likely for stomach issues – such as heartburn and acid reflux – to occur.
2. Teeth Grinding
Roughly 10% of people who suffer from sleep apnea may find that they are suddenly grinding their teeth when they are awake, or when they are fast asleep.
Researchers believe that the reason for this is our body’s subconscious efforts to be able to tighten the muscles in the airway to keep the jaw from moving, and to prevent the tongue from blocking an already struggling airway passage.
Though rare, a sudden rise in sleepwalking can be a sign that there is a breathing issue when you’re fast asleep. The theory is that when your brain recognizes that you are gasping for air when you’re at rest, it signals your body to respond by moving to resume normal breathing again.
This can include tossing and turning, and in extreme cases, getting up from bed and sleepwalking. Because sleepwalking can be potentially dangerous, it’s an important sign to be on the lookout for.
4. Unexplained Weight Gain
Not sure why the scale keeps creeping up despite your best efforts to diet and exercise? It could very well be sleep apnea.
Many hormones that assist with metabolism and hunger regulating don’t reach their peak until you’re fast asleep, so without quality sleep, you may be hungrier during the day, and even become more resistant to insulin.
Sleep apnea clearly affects every patient differently, but by solving the root problem, it’s natural for the accompanying symptoms to go away as well. Pay attention to the signs – no matter how subtle and unusual – and ensure you’re getting the best rest possible, without obstruction, and without the many correlating symptoms of sleep apnea.
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