More people are hearing about sleep apnea, since one of its most common symptoms is often loud and frequent snoring.  Since half of American adults snore, that suddenly gets a lot of attention. Short of going to a sleep apnea dentist like Dr. Marine, who (no doubt surprisingly) specializes in treating sleep apnea, you can narrow down the odds that you or a partner have this much more serious condition.

A checklist of symptoms could start with a dim awareness of being frequently and briefly half-awakened during the night to take a deep breath. An apnea is a pause in breathing due to either a brain signaling malfunction or the airway being blocked by excess soft tissue, especially if lying on one’s back. When waking up in the morning, they will often have a sore throat due to breathing through their mouth trying to get more oxygen, as well as morning migraines.

The most likely candidates will consequently be tired all the time, no matter how much they think they have slept. They will have trouble staying awake driving to work and when they get there. The National Highway Traffic Administration attributes more than 100,000 vehicle accidents and 1,500 deaths a year to sleepiness. That includes partners of those who snore, whether because of sleep apnea or other reasons, who don’t get adequate sleep. The Sleep Disorders Guide notes that those with sleep apnea are six times more likely to be in an accident than others.

Since sleep deprivation in general also makes it five times more likely someone will suffer from clinical depression, it would be common for those afflicted with sleep apnea to often feel down, without this being due to life circumstances.

Other indicators can be obesity (not just being a bit overweight), having acid reflux frequently, males often being afflicted with erectile dysfunction, and having difficulty breathing when awake, due to allergies, a deviated septum, or sinus problems.

The groups most afflicted are men 50-70 (17%) and women of the same ages (9%). But according to a summary of sleep apnea statistics, many others should be worried if they have the symptoms. A study showed that 10% of men 30-39 and 3% women  in that bracket have the disorder (though it should be noted that an estimated 80% of all those who do have not had it diagnosed and probably don’t know).

But 1-4% of children also have sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and 10-20% of kids who snore. However, it usually does not manifest so severely in the young. It is also believed that it can worsen attention deficit disorder and thus play a role in academic underachievement. 

Another measure of how broad and deep the threat of sleep apnea is, is its estimated impact on the U.S. economy, between $65 billion and $165 billion per year.