What are Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea?

A sleep disorder that is capable of leading to serious, and even systemic health complications, sleep apnea is a condition which can cause people to stop breathing intermittently as they are sleeping. Snoring can often be an indication of sleep apnea. Most commonly sleep apnea affects older overweight men, but it actually can affect anyone, even children.


Warning signs of sleep apnea are varied. One of the most common signs of sleep apnea is the presence of snoring that is audible enough to cause disturbance and sleep disruption for others. Sadly, sleep disturbance due to snoring by a partner has been known to cause martial discord. Waking up with a choking feeling, or gasping for air can be another warning sign. Noticeable and/or obvious intermittent pausing in breathing while sleeping can be a warning sign of sleep apnea. And another common warning sign of sleep apnea is extreme drowsiness during the day. The warning signs for sleep apnea for children are similar and include, snoring, mouth breathing during sleep, daytime drowsiness, bedwetting, and sometimes behavioral issues.


Obstructive sleep apnea can develop for anyone. But, there are certain factors associated with an increased risk.

  • Weight Issues: Most people that end up developing obstructive sleep apnea are considered overweight.
  • Health conditions: Other pre-existing health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism (which is condition caused by an underachieve thyroid), and polycystic ovary syndrome can all cause obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Narrow airways: Tonsils and/or adenoids (which are lymphoid tissues similar to tonsils behind the nose) can become enlarged. This is quite common in children and sometimes occurs in adults. This enlargement can cause a narrowing of the airways which can cause obstructive sleep apnea. Nasal congestions and tumors in the throat or blockage can also obstruct airways and cause obstructive sleep apnea.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hyptertension): Obstructive sleep apnea can be more common for people with high blood pressure.
  • Gender: While sleep apnea is more common in men, there is an increase risk of obstructive sleep apnea for women after they have gone through menopause.
  • Family History: Family history of sleep apnea increases a person’s risk for developing sleep apnea.
  • Smoking: People that smoke have an increased risk for obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Decreased and/or Weakened Muscle Tone: Often muscle tone decreases as people age. Lack of the right kinds and amounts of physical activity can cause muscles around upper airways to weaken which can cause floppiness and narrowing of the airways, which can contribute to sleep apnea.


There are actually quite a few signs and symptoms for obstructive sleep apnea, some of which seem obvious and some, more subtle, including loud snoring, extreme sleepiness and daytime fatigue, waking with a sore throat and/or a dry mouth, headaches in the morning, difficulty with focusing throughout the day, mood changes including irritability and depression, high blood pressure, sweating during sleep at night, decrease in sex drive, and abrupt awakenings during sleep often accompanied by choking or gasping.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?