Is Snoring Related to Sleep Apnea?

Snoring is a common occurrence that affects almost half of America’s population. While most of us have snored on occasion, about a quarter of all people snore on a nightly basis. While there is no single type of person that snores, this condition tends to target men and those who are overweight. Although this is typically a mild condition, snoring often worsens over time and becomes increasingly noticeable as we age. Apart from this disturbing noise, snoring can also be a sign of dangerous obstructed breathing.

What is snoring?

When the flow of air is obstructed, it causes irritating vibrations to occur in the back of the nose and throat area. These vibrations often cause sound, which we know as snoring, to emanate and disrupt the surrounding environment. The noises can occur each time the person breathes in or out.

Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • An elongated soft palate or uvula
  • Excessive bulkiness of throat or tongue tissue
  • Obstructed nasal passages
  • Poor muscle tone in the throat or tongue

While most of these causes are common and don’t pose much of a threat, there are some cases where snoring can be an indicator of a more serious issue.

When does snoring become serious?

This loud and persistent snoring can make falling asleep or staying asleep a difficult task for those who sleep next to or near the person snoring. It can cause irritating strain between you and your partner, and is often thought of as bothersome and embarrassing. As the one who snores, it can be hazardous as it causes you disturbed and inconsistent sleep. The lack of sleep you get from snoring can cause you to feel groggy and tired the following day. What’s worse is that this cycle is unrelenting, causing you to constantly lose sleep and feel increasingly tired as the days progress. If snoring is having this effect on

a person’s life, there is a strong chance that the person may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway collapses or narrows as you sleep. This can cause a person to stop breathing entirely for multiple seconds at a time. This will lead to a large gasp of air which also causes a disruption in sleep.  As the patient falls back into deeper sleep, the process occurs again leading to an ongoing disruptive cycle.  This can happen multiple times per hour every night.  This creates intense and consistent fatigue for the person, and can cause them dangerous health risks due to the lack of sleep. OSA can put a strain on the lungs and also the heart, as it works harder to pump oxygen throughout the body. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to even greater health problems, such as diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmias, and even sudden death.  Concentration, memory, and performance may also be affected.

What are my treatment options?

If you or someone you know is suffering from severe snoring, please contact us for an evaluation to ensure that obstructive sleep apnea is not a factor.  However, if OSA is present, we have several treatment options available for most patients. Get in touch with one of our skilled physicians today and we will develop a plan of treatment that best fits your needs.