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Is breathlessness and feeling of phlegm in throat a sign of sleep apnea?

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Posted on Thu, 21 May 2015
Question: I currently have a cold (a cough, runny nose etc). I woke up last night feeling like I couldn't breath, I think maybe some phlegm or something was stuck in my throat? Anyways, i just coughed and it was no problem and I could breath again. I've had similar things happen several years ago.

My question: Is sleep apnea investigation required after one incident or was this likely as a result of the chest infection/cold. I don't have any shortness of breath while lying down and no other symptoms that would indicate heart failure. I am normal weight (168LBS, 5.11, 19% body fat).
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Answered by Dr. Rovena Murati (26 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
detailed below.

Detailed Answer:
Hello.

Welcome to Healthcare Magic.

I read carefully your query.
It seems that the episode was related to the respiratory infection your are having.During a respiratory tract infection ,there is a lot of mucus and secretions present in the airways,that could have caused the episode.
It is not sufficient only one episode of being short of breath that resolved quickly.

We would suspect sleep apnea if you had a long history of sleeping problems like you snore loudly,sudden interruption of sleep several times during the night , daytime sleepiness (such as falling asleep at work, while driving or when talking), irritability or fatigue, morning headaches, forgetfulness, mood changes etc.

If you don't have any symptom of the above and this has happened only in specific occasions when you had a respiratory tract infection ,I don't think you need any investigation and don't need to worry.


Hope it helps.
Let me know if you have any other questions or doubts to clarify.I would be happy to answer.

Kind regards,
Dr.Rovena Murati
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Rovena Murati

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2013

Answered : 1243 Questions

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Is breathlessness and feeling of phlegm in throat a sign of sleep apnea?

Brief Answer: detailed below. Detailed Answer: Hello. Welcome to Healthcare Magic. I read carefully your query. It seems that the episode was related to the respiratory infection your are having.During a respiratory tract infection ,there is a lot of mucus and secretions present in the airways,that could have caused the episode. It is not sufficient only one episode of being short of breath that resolved quickly. We would suspect sleep apnea if you had a long history of sleeping problems like you snore loudly,sudden interruption of sleep several times during the night , daytime sleepiness (such as falling asleep at work, while driving or when talking), irritability or fatigue, morning headaches, forgetfulness, mood changes etc. If you don't have any symptom of the above and this has happened only in specific occasions when you had a respiratory tract infection ,I don't think you need any investigation and don't need to worry. Hope it helps. Let me know if you have any other questions or doubts to clarify.I would be happy to answer. Kind regards, Dr.Rovena Murati