By: ResMed

Moderate Sleep Apnea Symptoms and OSA

Moderate sleep apnea symptoms: How are they different than the symptoms of mild or severe sleep apnea? And can you tell which type of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) you have from the symptoms alone?

Let’s begin with a definition of moderate sleep apnea. A form of obstructive sleep apnea that falls between mild and severe, moderate sleep apnea is, like all forms of sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to wake up multiple times per hour while you’re trying to sleep. People with sleep apnea don’t always notice that they wake up frequently during the night — which is why a list of moderate sleep apnea symptoms can be helpful to review to know whether you should talk to your doctor about taking a sleep test.

Cinicians generally categorize the various types of OSA into three categories: mild, moderate and severe. In past blog posts we’ve explored the definitions and symptoms of mild sleep apnea and severe sleep apnea — and we’ve looked at the crossover between mild and moderate sleep apnea. Today, we turn our focus to moderate sleep apnea symptoms, and we’ll move into the treatment options for this distinct type of OSA in upcoming blog articles, as well.

Common moderate sleep apnea symptoms

What are the most common moderate sleep apnea symptoms? Typically, moderate sleep apnea causes a combination of the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Snoring (loudly and/or consistently)
  2. Excessive sleepiness during the day (also called hypersomnia)
  3. Morning headaches
  4. Feelings of depression, irritability or mood swings
  5. Difficulty concentrating, focusing or remembering things during the day
  6. Restless sleep, or difficulty staying asleep
  7. Lack of energy
  8. Irregular breathing during sleep
  9. Nighttime gasping, choking or coughing
  10. A need to use the bathroom frequently during the night
  11. Episodes of stopped breathing, gasping or choking during the night (usually witnessed by another person)
  12. Presence of dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
  13. High blood pressure
  14. Excessive weight
  15. A large neck size

(The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons defines “large neck size” as greater than 17″ in men, and greater than 16″ around in women.)

On the surface, the list of most common moderate sleep apnea symptoms doesn’t look much different than the list of symptoms for mild sleep apnea, or even severe sleep apnea. The difference is usually found in how pronounced these symptoms are, or how many of them exist together.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), all people with obstructive sleep apnea typically experience some form of involuntary sleepiness. But in pinpointing specific moderate sleep apnea symptoms, the AASM defines feelings of sleepiness “during activities that require some attention, such as meetings or presentations.”

Taken individually, none of these symptoms are particularly unusual or cause for alarm. But according to the Mayo Clinic’s website, it’s time to see a doctor when your snoring is “loud enough to disturb the sleep of others or yourself,” or when your excessive daytime drowsiness is causing you to “fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving.”

Again, if any of these moderate sleep apnea symptoms sound familiar, we encourage you to talk to your doctor today to see if you may need treatment for OSA.

This blog post contains general information about medical conditions and potential treatments. It is not medical advice. If you have any medical questions, please consult your doctor.

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