Often, snoring and sleep apnea go hand in hand. In fact, snoring is one of the most common and well-documented symptoms of sleep apnea. When a person has chronic and ongoing snoring problems, there is always a chance that they are also suffering from sleep apnea.
Now, it is not to say that snoring and sleep apnea are synonymous; many people suffer from bad snoring habits and never develop sleep apnea. However, in the diagnosis of sleep apnea, chronic snoring is one of the symptoms we always look for. When a person with sleep apnea has chronic snoring, we find that snoring is often intermittent with pauses, which will sometimes end in choking or gasping. These are additional signs that point to sleep apnea.
The challenge is that the patient is often asleep when these events occur. Nobody can truly be sure that they snore at night or whenever they fall asleep, simply because they are usually in too deep of a restive state to be disturbed by their own sound. Similarly, when a person suffering from sleep apnea chokes or gasps at the end of a pause during their snoring, they may have no idea that this is happening to them.
In cases like this, we have to rely on a family member or a partner to identify that these symptoms are occurring and to note how frequently. Since snoring can be completely independent of sleep apnea, it can be challenging to positively identify it, which is why we look for other symptoms as well.
Other common symptoms that go along with snoring and sleep apnea includes fatigue during the day. Many of the patients who suffer from sleep apnea find that they are unable to get enough sleep and that they feel sleepy throughout the day, periodically nodding off. People with sleep apnea may rapidly fall asleep during the daytime, as well. When combined with chronic snoring, this can be a clear symptom of sleep apnea.
Despite snoring and sleep apnea having such a distinctive relationship, we still always look for other signs and recommend that any patient who is having trouble breathing during sleep consult with their doctor about possible sleep apnea treatments.
If you have other symptoms like falling asleep during the day, headaches, problems with remembering or learning things, irritability and depression, trouble focusing or concentrating, or dry mouth and a sore throat, you definitely need to consult with your doctor about sleep apnea. In children, this condition can possibly manifest itself as irritability, inability to do well in school, and hyperactivity during the day. Additionally, children who suffer from sleep apnea may have a habit of breathing through their mouth, even during the day time.
While a few of the symptoms of sleep apnea are often dismissed as coincidental, such as snoring, it is important to seek treatment if the other symptoms occur.