A sleep expert has urged people not to ignore one common symptom that could hint at a potentially dangerous disorder.
Dr Joachim Behar, a sleep scientist, has warned that millions of Americans are ignoring one significant symptom that could indicate there is something seriously wrong.
Dr Behar told ThePost: "Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an extremely common condition, impacting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Yet, millions suffer in silence because common symptoms of OSA may be overlooked or difficult to detect because they occur during sleep."
OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax and block your airways while you're sleeping, meaning your lungs don't get enough air and not enough oxygen gets to your blood.
Your brain then senses that you can't breathe and wakes you up briefly, so that you can reopen your airway.
This interruption happens so quickly that you usually don't notice it or remember it, but experts say it can happen up to 30 times per hour all night long.
This results in you feeling exhausted due to having a restless night's sleep - even if you don't remember it.
If ignored, OSA can potentially put you at risk of more serious conditions.
Dr Behar added: "When a patient ignores the problem or is misdiagnosed, OSA becomes a risk factor for very serious conditions, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease."
The most common symptom which is generally dismissed is snoring.
While snoring doesn't always indicate there's something wrong, it could be worth considering if you're experiencing other symptoms.
There are also several factors that increase your risk of OSA, such as smoking, nasal congestion, excess weight, being older, family history and more.
However, OSA can be avoided with some very simple lifestyle changes, with Dr Behar adding: “The good news is that some simple lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, sleeping on your side, and avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills can help reduce symptoms of OSA."
Those with an extreme case of OSA may be prescribed a positive airway pressure machine, which is considered to be the most effective treatment.Featured Image Credit: Getty