Chronic Snorer? You May Have Sleep Apnea
Snoring is a commonplace habit that is often met with an eye roll or an elbow nudge from a spouse, significant other or non-snoring family member. Almost everyone has an embarrassing snoring story to share, which makes sense given that 45% of American adults snore at least occasionally and 25% are habitual snorers, totaling millions of individuals affected by this sleep habit.
Sure, a little snoring now and then is perfectly normal. But at what point does habitual snoring become a cause for concern? Here’s an overview of what signs to look for and how to distinguish between snoring and a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.
What causes snoring?
Many people know what snoring is, but when asked to explain what’s actually causing the familiar sound, there’s significantly less clarity. In order to understand chronic snoring, it’s important to first identify what’s causing it. Put simply, snoring is the sound that results due to obstructed air movement while breathing during sleep. Snoring may range from a soft noise to a loud and unpleasant one. The obstructive air movement that produces snoring can be caused by many factors, which vary from person to person.
Chronic snorers typically have anatomical factors impacting their condition. A thick soft palate, large tongue, large uvula or a deviated septum are just a few examples of anatomical conditions that can obstruct the airway and cause snoring. Furthermore, factors such as nasal congestion and consumption of alcohol or sleeping aids can increase the severity of snoring in habitual snorers as well as cause snoring in individuals who normally don’t snore.
What’s the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?
While not all snorers have obstructive sleep apnea, chronic snoring is a telltale symptom of this serious sleep disorder. For this reason, it is critically important to not brush this habit off as just an embarrassing or irritating sound.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep due to an obstruction of the airway. Since not enough oxygen is reaching the brain, blood oxygen levels are reduced and the heart has to pump even harder. As a result, sleep apnics spend most of the night in a light sleep, causing them to wake up feeling exhausted, no matter how many hours of shut-eye they get.
What are the telltale signs of sleep apnea?
Individuals suffering from sleep apnea may experience a whole slew of unpleasant symptoms, including:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat
- Dry mouth
- Restless sleep
- Gasping or the sensation of choking during sleep
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause even more serious health consequences including high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. It also increases your chances of dying earlier.
Snoring Treatments and Sleep Apnea Testing in PA
The first step to determining whether you are suffering from sleep apnea is to schedule a consultation with a physician who is specially trained in sleep medicine and diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. eos dental sleep offers a convenient practice location in Center City, Philadelphia. If our physician believes that you are at a high risk for having sleep apnea, he will recommend a home sleep study to identify the presence and severity of a potential sleep apnea disorder.
Still not sure whether it’s simply snoring or something more? Click below to take our short diagnostic quiz to determine your level of risk for sleep apnea.
No matter what the diagnosis – be it sleep apnea or simply snoring – you can take comfort in knowing that there are numerous treatment options available to manage your symptoms. If you have already been prescribed the CPAP mask and are looking for an alternative treatment option, you may be interested in learning more about oral appliance therapy.
Ready to stop snoring and start sleeping better? Schedule a consultation at eos dental sleep today.