The main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep. Other less-familiar signs of the condition might surprise you.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep condition that causes the muscles in your throat to relax repeatedly during sleep. This blocks your air passage and interrupts your breathing.

Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. Loud snoring, pauses in breathing during sleep and waking up gasping or choking are common symptoms of the condition. But other signs of obstructive sleep apnea might surprise you.

  1. You always seem to have a headache in the morning. You wake up most mornings with a headache, which can last for several hours after you get up. The pain is usually located toward the front of your head and on both sides. It might feel as if your head is being squeezed.
  2. You can't concentrate during the day. You might have trouble concentrating because obstructive sleep apnea makes it hard to get enough restorative sleep. Keep track of how often it's difficult for you to concentrate at work, at school or on a project. You may also find yourself falling asleep or nodding off while reading, watching television or driving.
  3. You experience mood changes, such as feeling irritable or depressed. You might frequently feel angry or annoyed, even at slight inconveniences. You may also feel generally down, depressed or sad and frequently cry.
  4. You constantly sweat in your sleep. Waking up to sweaty sheets and pajamas on a regular basis may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
  5. You rarely feel in the mood for sex. Obstructive sleep apnea can decrease your libido.
  6. You often wake up with a sore throat — but you aren't sick. You might wake up with a dry and/or sore throat due to repeated gasping, choking and blocked airflow during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Check with your doctor if you experience symptoms on a regular basis or if your partner routinely complains about your loud snoring.

Aug. 14, 2020