What Are the Signs I Have Sleep Apnea?

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What Are the Signs I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder, one that causes you to involuntarily stop breathing when you’re asleep. It affects about 26% of adults between the ages of 30-70, but many cases go unreported because patients don’t feel the symptoms warrant attention. 

Sleep apnea can lead to a host of more serious conditions, though, so it’s important you learn to recognize the signs.

At Manteca Dental Care, Dr. Rick Van Tran and our team diagnose and treat sleep apnea at our Manteca, California, office. Because not all patients know what signs indicate they may have a problem, we hope this article helps get you up to speed so you’ll know when to seek medical attention.

The types of sleep apnea

There are two primary types of sleep apnea.

1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the more common type, affecting about 10%-30% of adults in the United States. When the muscles in the back of your throat relax during sleep, your soft palate, the side walls of your throat, and your tongue relax, as well, collapsing into your airway, blocking it, and preventing you from inhaling.

When the oxygen level in your blood drops, your brain gives a startle response, signaling you to wake up and clear your airway. The startle, during which you snort, gasp, or make choking sounds, is so brief you wake only long enough to resolve the problem and then head back to sleep … until the next time it happens.

This altered breathing pattern can occur 5-30 times or more each hour, and it may happen throughout the night. You’re unable to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep and wake up tired and parched in the morning as a result. 

But because each disturbance is so brief, you probably won’t remember what happened in the morning. The symptoms are usually reported by a bedmate.

2. Central sleep apnea (CSA)

Affecting less than 1% of the population, CSA prevents your brain from transmitting signals to your breathing muscles, so you stop breathing for a short period. Some people feel short of breath when they wake up, while others have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep.

Signs you have sleep apnea

Two of the major signs of sleep apnea come from a bedmate or roommate: snoring loudly and holding your breath. Other common signs are persistent, and you can decipher them yourself, including:

  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Memory and concentration problems
  • Irritability

If you experience any of these signs, especially snoring and holding your breath, seek medical attention; not breathing for even a short time can be life-threatening.

Treating sleep apnea

If we determine you have sleep apnea, we can treat it and help you get a restful night’s sleep. Some of the most common treatments include:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine

A CPAP machine involves a mask you wear over your nose and mouth while you’re asleep. The machine sends a steady stream of air into your lungs, the pressure of which holds your airway open.

Oral appliances

A custom-made oral appliance holds your lower jaw forward while you sleep, opening your airway and preventing obstruction.


This FDA-approved, surgically implantable, upper airway stimulation device functions a lot like a pacemaker. The device monitors your breathing, and if it senses you’re not drawing breath, it stimulates specific nerves that trigger your throat muscles to contract. This opens your airway and allows you to breathe normally and sleep deeply.

If you’re experiencing any signs of sleep apnea, it’s time to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Tran. Give us a call at 209-823-9218 or book online today.