Sleep Apnea Versus Snoring:
Which Is It?
Which Is It?
Does your partner routinely ask you to roll over during the night because you’re snoring too loudly? Or have you accidentally woken yourself up? It’s not uncommon. Snoring can be disruptive for both you and those around you, but is it just a nuisance or something more sinister?
The reality is most people snore. If you catch a cold or struggle with sinus, you’ll snore. But some people aren’t simply snoring. They have sleep apnea, a condition that causes their bodies to stop breathing at intervals during the night. Eventually, their reflex kicks in and they may wake gasping for air, or they’ll just start breathing, but it can be very scary for their partner.
So how do you know whether you have sleep apnea? In this blog article, we’ll overview each condition, ways to improve it and when to seek medical attention.
Read the full article or Use the quick links to jump ahead.
- What is sleep apnea
- Is sleep apnea the same as snoring?
- What are the signs of sleep apnea?
- Who is most at risk of developing snoring or OSA?
- What are the long-term risks of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring?
- Next steps
What is sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where during sleep, your upper airway muscles relax, causing the airway to close off. As a result, you can stop breathing for up to 10 seconds at a time until your natural reflex kickstarts your breathing again.
While it’s more prevalent in obese people, it does occur in 3% of normal-weight people. It also tends to affect more men than women, although this number increases dramatically in menopausal women.
Is sleep apnea the same as snoring?
No, sleep apnea is very different to snoring.
Snoring is a hoarse sound that occurs when air flows over relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the airways to partly block off and vibrate. It can be a soft snore or a loud, rumbling snore that disrupts the sleep of those around you.
Snoring often occurs when people sleep on their backs or in people with blocked noses, a cold or allergies. But it can also be a sign of more pressing health concerns. One of the best ways to improve snoring is to make certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol at night, losing weight, and sleeping on your side.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
There are two common types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive sleep apnea.
While snoring is sometimes associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), not all people who snore have sleep apnea. But if you notice your partner routinely stop breathing during the night or they wake choking or gasping for air, we recommend you speak to your doctor.
Many people who struggle with snoring will wake with a dry mouth and sometimes a sore throat. But if you’re struggling with obstructive sleep apnea, you’ll experience the following symptoms:
- Headaches in the morning
- Foggy brain or difficulty concentrating
- Restless or broken sleep
- Dry mouth
- A sore throat in the morning
- Dry mouth
- Mood swings or depression
Who is most at risk of developing snoring or OSA?
- Men. For some reason, they’re more likely to develop sleep apnea or snore than women are.
- People with nasal conditions such as allergies, chronic sinusitis, or a deviated septum are at risk of snoring regularly.
- Hereditary traits. If you have a family history of snoring, you’re more likely to snore or develop sleep apnea.
- Consuming alcohol relaxes the throat muscles leading to snoring. If it begins to disrupt your partner’s sleep, perhaps save a drink for a special occasion.
- Obese or overweight people. For some reason, people who are overweight tend to struggle with snoring and sleep apnea.
- People with narrow nasal passages. Children and adults with large tonsils and adenoids have been known to snore.
What are the long-term risks of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring?
People who suffer from OSA and snoring have been known to develop chronic fatigue syndrome later in life and have an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes. Their condition has been known to cause relationship and social problems with their loved ones, as well as poor concentration during the day.
Are you concerned that you may have obstructive sleep apnea? Dr Pieter Troost, an Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, runs a sleep lab in Namibia where he diagnoses and treats people with snoring and sleep apnea issues.
If you believe that you may have a problem, reach out to him to learn more about his methodology. Click here.
He’ll monitor how you sleep using machines that record your vital signs, how much oxygen you have in your blood, how air moves through your body, and how your chest moves. This can be done in the comfort of your home or at a sleep centre.
Based on the results of your sleep study, you’ll be advised of the next steps. Alternatively, reach out to Welwitschia and find an ENT specialist doctor on our website.
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