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"What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?"
My husband (44 years old) has always been a heavy snorer. But recently, when he's sleeping it sounds like something's choking him. It scared me at first, but now I think he might have sleep apnea. What other symptoms does sleep apnea produce?
Snoring can have many different causes and the specialists involved in the diagnosis and treatment of snoring and sleep apnea include internists and sleep specialists (a pulmonologist, neurologist or psychiatrist specially trained to diagnose and treat patients with sleep disordered breathing). Most patients with sleep apnea first come to the attention of a physician due to a complaint about snoring and/or excessive daytime sleepiness. Bed partners often complain about snoring, snorting and worrisome episodes of breathing cessation. Daytime sleepiness is a common and important feature of sleep apnea but may go unnoticed because of its chronicity. Feeling sleepy or falling asleep in boring, quiet or passive situations is common and patients may fall asleep while watching TV, working at a computer or even driving. If these symptoms of daytime sleepiness exist, a sleep study is encouraged to evaluate for sleep apnea and treatment for sleep apnea. Other associated symptoms include awakening with a cessation of choking, gasping or smothering; awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat; restless sleep; episodes of breathing cessation; periods of silence interrupted by loud snoring; lack of concentration; morning headaches; awakening with chest discomfort; decreased libido and frequent nighttime urination. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are all medical conditions that have been shown to have associations with sleep apnea. It is not possible to come to a diagnosis without examining the patient. The strong recommendation is therefore to get a referral to a sleep specialist and get evaluated in person.
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