While snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, it does not always mean you will have sleep apnea, just as if you have sleep apnea it does not always mean you snore. It is important to understand what sleep apnea is and what snoring is before you jump to conclusions about your health and self-diagnose. Let’s take a closer look at sleep apnea, snoring and why each is dangerous to your health and your partner’s health to help you find out the answer to “do I have sleep apnea?”
What is Snoring?
We’ve all heard someone snore at some point in our lives, so what is it? Snoring is caused by the vibration of respiratory structures due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. The uvula often causes this vibration, which is the tissue that hangs down in the back of your throat. An elongated soft palate, a large tongue or obstructions in the nasal area also cause snoring.
Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone. However, it does occur more frequently in men and those who are overweight. As a person ages, snoring has a tendency to worsen, which means attention is needed sooner rather than later. Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for your bed partner. However, if you are a habitual snorer, not only are you disrupting your partner’s sleep, but you are also impairing your own. Snoring is also a sign that you might have sleep apnea. Excessive snoring should lead you to ask yourself, “do I have sleep apnea?”
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder, which is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or abnormally low breathing during sleep. These apnea events can occur due to a lack of respiratory effort due to a physical blockage to your airflow, or a combination of both. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of apnea and occurs where there is a physical blockage of airflow.
Individuals with OSA rarely are aware they are having difficulty breathing. More often than not, their partners will notice the pauses in breathing while they are sleeping. Sleep apnea can affect your sleep quality, work performance, vigilance, motivation, and other behavioral or cognitive effects. Without treatment, your sleep apnea could worsen and cause other complications in your health and life.
There are several effective treatment options for OSA including custom made Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). OAT is recognized as a first-line treatment option for those patients who have been diagnosed with Mild to Moderate OSA and those patients that have tried but have had no success or have refused Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). A dentist trained in snoring and sleep apnea will help fit you with a custom made oral appliance and monitor you with a follow-up sleep study (PSG) or a home sleep study (HST) to ensure it is not only reducing your snoring but also treating your OSA.
Why are Snoring and Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
It is shown that as many as 50% of adults snore while 1 in 15 Americans are affected by sleep apnea. While someone who snores may also suffer from sleep apnea, not all patients with sleep apnea snore. Make sense? This means that even though you do not snore, it does not mean you do not have sleep apnea.
Seeking treatment is important to maintain your health due to the dangers of snoring and sleep apnea. To this day, studies continue to pop up on the links between sleep apnea and various diseases and medical conditions. By treating your snoring and sleep apnea, you can help protect yourself from the following:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Sleep apnea is linked to each condition for various reasons, which means seeking treatment is vital in maintaining optimal overall health.
Is it just snoring, or do I have sleep apnea?
So, what is the answer to “do I have sleep apnea?” If you are feeling exhausted and not refreshed in the morning after a good night’s sleep, you should consider a sleep study. Contact a Snoring Isn’t Sexy dentist or your primary care physician for more information on sleep apnea, snoring and what your next steps should be – take the STOP BANG questionnaire to determine your risk levels and show your health care provider your results. Remember, seeking a diagnosis and treatment is important to maintain your health and to keep your partner happy.