Loud snoring is often one of the first noticeable symptoms of sleep apnea, but it isn't always related to this condition, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute states. Individuals with sleep apnea usually experience short gasping or choking fits, which interrupt their snoring briefly due to difficulty breathing.
Early symptoms of sleep apnea are typically noticed by an individual's bed partner or relatives, Cleveland Clinic notes. Other common signs include headaches, restlessness at night and frequently waking up. The person may have night sweats and ongoing fatigue, often leading to daytime drowsiness, moodiness and irritability. Lack of sleep can interfere with an individual's ability to focus throughout the day, and children often display a decline in school performance or develop behavioral disorders. Kids may also sleep in abnormal positions, such as on their hands and knees.
Doctors have identified two forms of sleep apnea: obstructive and central, according to Cleveland Clinic. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common variant, occurs when the upper airways are periodically blocked, putting harmful pressure on muscles in the chest. These episodes repeatedly cut off oxygen flow, endangering vital organs and increasing the risk of developing heart arrhythmias. Central sleep apnea is caused by a malfunction of the central nervous system that happens when brain signals that aid in respiratory function fail to communicate with the chest muscles.