Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Check if you have these tell-tale symptoms.

Dr Kenny Pang

Many studies have shown that the symptoms a person experiences are useful in predicting if he has sleep apnea (apnoea), or not. There are certain strong indicators of sleep apnea.

If a person snores and feels excessively sleepy during the day, there is a close to 70% chance that he has sleep apnea. If he snores, has excessive daytime sleepiness, and his bed-partner notices that he tends to stop breathing off and on while sleeping (or if he gasps during sleep), there is an 80% probability that he has sleep apnea.

If a person snores, has excessive daytime sleepiness, his bed-partner says he stops breathing at night, and he also has high blood pressure (hypertension), there is a 90% chance that this person has sleep apnea.

I have young patients, aged between 30 and 50 years, with severe symptoms of sleep apnea, and who are already on anti-hypertensive (high blood pressure) medication. It is not normal for a young person to have high blood pressure; there should be an attempt to root out or rule out an underlying cause.

Here are some questions to ask yourself, if you think you might have sleep apnea:

During the day, while awake …

  • Do you wake up in the morning tired, groggy, and feeling unrefreshed?
  • Do you have headaches in the morning?
  • Are you very sleepy during the day?
  • Do you fall asleep easily during the day?
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating, and completing tasks at work?
  • Do you feel dazed, like you are “not in your body”?
  • Have you ever arrived home in your car, but can’t recall the trip from work?

At night, while asleep …

  • Do you snore loudly?
  • Do you experience frequent pauses in breathing (that is, do you choke or gasp)?
  • Are you restless during sleep, and do you toss and turn?
  • Do you have to sleep sitting up or with your head propped up by pillows, because you become breathless when lying supine?
  • Do you have to get up to urinate several times during the night?
  • Have you wet your bed as an adult?
  • Do you frequently have nightmares?

If you answer “yes” to 3 of these questions, there is a strong chance that you might have sleep apnea, and should see a specialist for clinical evaluation.

Note that this article is for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as a substitute for personalised professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.