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Respiratory Therapist/Daytime apnea like symptoms


Hello -

Most of my life (am 33 now) I have noticed that I have what I would describe as "apnea" breathing patterns throughout the day. By this I mean, I feel like I breath normally for a few minutes, but then my breathing will stop for anywhere from, say, 5 to 60 seconds, then kick back in a slight 'grunt' sound. Almost like a light throat clearing sound.

This behavior doesn't seem to cause me problems, per se. I am a healthy and fit individual. Though, I do suffer from what I would classify as excessive daytime fatigue, and a lack of memory/concentration. Perhaps related?

I would like to know if a breathing pattern as I've described is a known condition, and if seeing a specialist is warranted.

I am a non-smoker.

Thank you.

Hi Eric,

THANK YOU for entrusting me with your interesting medical question today! Lemme see if I can help.  So I assume you mean can you experience "apnea" while awake, not asleep, in the daytime. Yes is not entirely common, but it is possible. This is usually something called Central Apnea, which is caused by a malfunctioning of the brain's respiratory center and/or a malfunction of the normal oxygen and carbon dioxide interchange which tells us to breath or exhale. Sometimes it is not necessarily secondary to any abnormality of the brain or other organ system which affect the oxygen ratios (heart disease, for example). If you were to get a formal sleep study to see what is really going on, and you have an Apnea/Hypopnea index that is abnormally high, then you may need to be treated, preferably with CPAP therapy (continuous positive airway pressure) or Bi-level PAP. You should also be checked out to see if you have any abnormality of your lungs.

I hope this helps!

In good health,

Larry, BA-RRT

Respiratory Therapist

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Larry W. Wical, BA-RRT


I CAN answer: ALL questions and queries related to the following topics... - Oxygen - Asthma - COPD - Bronchitis - Emphysema - Pneumonia (Viral/Bacterial) - Tuberculosis (TB) - SARS - Influenza (Flu) - Vaccines - Pulmonary Embolism - Pleural Effusion - Atelectasis - Inhalation injuries (burns, chemicals, etc.) - PFTs - Cardiovascular health - Sleep Apnea - BiPap/CPAP - Ventilators ("Respirators") - Aspiration injuries - Thoracic injuries - Lung contusions - Tracheal injuries - Artificial Tracheostomy - Secretions - Prolotherapy/Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT): A patient's experience/perspective - General health and fitness I CANNOT answer: Questions that vary too far from my primary scope of pulmonary and cardiovascular care and fitness. I promise to be open and honest about my knowledge of submitted topics, and will always openly provide my personal as well as professional feedback as it relates.


Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT, RCP) since 2005. I have worked primarily in the acute care, critical care, burn care and home care settings.

NBRC - National Board of Respiratory Care AARC - American Association of Respiratory Care

-All About Kids Magazine -The Clermont Sun -Cincy Sports & Fitness Magazine -Many online Fitness and Health blogs and "webazines"

- B.A. in Communication (1997) - A.A.S. in Respiratory Science (2005) - RRT license (state of OH, KY and IN) - Basic Life Saving (BLS) - Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) - Advanced Burn Life Support (ABLS)

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Currently work in the city's largest academic/research hospital.

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