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Recognizing the Early Signs of Sleep Apnea

Recognizing the Early Signs of Sleep Apnea

Are you often so tired during the day it’s hard to keep your head up, even if you slept for 7-8 hours the night before? You may have an undiagnosed condition called sleep apnea that prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep. 

Lack of good sleep causes all sorts of problems, both physical and psychological. If you have a chronic sleep deficit, you’re more at risk of serious disease, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and stroke. 

Plus, feeling tired all the time can lead to depression when you just can’t accomplish what you want to during the day. 

At Turnquest Surgical Solutions, we have successfully treated many patients with sleep apnea. Board-certified surgeons Dexter Turnquest, MD, and Victoria C. Chang, MD, are here to get you back on the road to good health by ensuring more peaceful sleep. 

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes your airway to narrow or close when you’re sleeping so your body can’t get enough oxygen. Your brain wakes you up, you gasp for breath, and fall asleep again. 

You may wake up many, many times during the night trying to pull in enough air into your airways, but you may be unaware of this waking cycle. If that’s the case, you likely have sleep apnea. 

Why is it important to understand early signs of sleep apnea?

If sleep apnea is uncontrolled, it can lead to a heart attack or stroke because your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen for extended periods of time to function properly. Early treatment saves wear-and-tear on your body’s systems. 

Sleep apnea can worsen over time. It may progress slowly so that you mistakenly attribute your sleepiness and low energy to growing older or some other cause. 

What are the early signs of sleep apnea? 

Recognizing the early signs of sleep apnea can prevent months and years of feeling tired and stressed. Following are common early signs of sleep apnea.

Heavy snoring 

If you sleep with a partner, does your significant other tell you that your snoring sounds like a train coming down the tracks? Snoring loudly is one early sign of sleep apnea. Of course, not all snorers have sleep apnea.

Sleepiness during the day  

If you frequently feel sleepy during the day, you could have sleep apnea if we rule out other health reasons. Daytime sleepiness can be dangerous because it can cause accidents when you’re driving or if you work with heavy equipment. 

Do you often feel like you could fall asleep in work meetings when you want to be fully engaged? If you’re otherwise healthy and any other conditions aren’t causing daytime sleepiness, you may have sleep apnea.   

Pauses in breathing or gasping for breath

Has your partner told you that your snoring is sometimes interrupted by the sound of you gasping for breath? Ask your partner to tell you if they notice whether your breathing sounds interrupted during the night. 


Sleep deprivation can cause irritability. It’s understandable that little annoyances seem much bigger than they used to if you have undiagnosed sleep apnea. The condition often worsens slowly over time. You may not realize that your irritability has a physiological reason. 

Treatment for sleep apnea

If we suspect sleep apnea, we may recommend that you do a sleep study. It’s the gold standard in determining whether you have sleep apnea. If you do have it, you may need a CPAP machine to help you breathe at night.

If there’s a physical reason why your airway is obstructed, we might recommend surgery. For example, if enlarged tonsils are blocking your airways, we can perform a tonsillectomy. 

Obesity is one of the major reasons that you might develop sleep apnea. We can work with you if you decide you want to consider weight loss surgery to control your weight. Your sleep apnea symptoms should lessen or disappear after you lose weight. 

Call us at one of our two Houston, Texas, offices or book an appointment online today if you think you may have sleep apnea.

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