Symptoms and Signs of Sleep Apnea

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition characterized by a periodic reduction in or a complete stop of breathing during sleep. The two main types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is due to an obstruction to the flow of air into the lungs, and central sleep apnea (CSA), which is a result of an abnormal regulatory mechanism in the brain.

Symptoms of sleep apnea may include daytime fatigue and sleepiness, problems sleeping (insomnia), difficulty concentrating and paying attention, memory problems, anxiety, irritability, headaches, and difficulty performing work duties. If not diagnosed and treated, complications of sleep apnea can include workplace or automobile accidents, high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heart rate, pulmonary hypertension, or death. Sleep apnea can also cause frequent awakening of the bed partner resulting in insomnia and its associated symptoms.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.