Snoring Is More Than Just An Annoying Habit That Inconveniences Sleeping Partners It Can Also Be The Sign Of Something Worse Here Are Some Important Facts You Need To Know About Snoring And Its Connection To Sleep Apnea
Loud snoring, accompanied by daytime fatigue, may be a sign of a common disorder known as sleep apnea. This condition causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep. It can affect the mood, leave a person exhausted during the day, challenge relationships with bed partners, and even be dangerous to ones health. It can also lead to poor concentration and an increased risk of accidents, as well as irritability and even depression. Physical health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, liver problems and weight gain are other possible results.
What Are The Symptoms Of Osa
Symptoms associated with OSA can include:
- Loud snoring
- Pauses in breathing during sleep
- Waking up gasping or choking
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Irritability, mood changes, depression, difficulty concentrating
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or other cardiac issues
How Can I Get A Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Getting a sleep apnea diagnosis without snoring is possible. Snoring is not the primary symptom in obstructive sleep apnea pauses in breath are. If you do not live with a partner who can pay attention to either pauses in breath or snoring while you sleep, it is possible to record yourself sleeping to see if you might have either symptom.
Even if you do, this is not a definitive diagnosis without a sleep study in one of two ways: in a sleep clinic or using an at-home kit. Unfortunately, if you have sleep apnea without snoring that might be linked to central sleep apnea, its important to have a sleep study done in a sleep lab accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Central sleep apnea can be very dangerous just on its own, so its important to identify the cause and start treatment as soon as possible.
Polysomnography uses leads and lines attached to the outside of your body to measure the following things:
- Brain waves with an electroencephalogram
- Chin and eye movement that signals sleep stages with an electrooculogram
- Heart rate and rhythm with an electrocardiogram
- Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood
- Leg movement
Your sleep technician will also measure your apneas, including the number of them and the length of time they last, to arrive at your apnea-hypopnea index . The AHI index is the total number of both and it measures the severity of your sleep apnea.
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Youre Restless During Sleep
People with apnea often toss and turn and otherwise show signs of restlessnighttime sleep. If you find yourself kicking, thrashing,jerking or waking up under a twisted pile of disheveled sheets, apnea mightbe a possible cause. When youre struggling to breathe at night, yoursleep becomes disrupted.
What Could It Be?
Sleep apnea is hardly the only issue that interferes with sleep. Expertshave described more than 70 different sleep disorders. Other commonculprits include:
- Restless legs syndrome: RLS causes unpleasant sensations in the legs and an urge to move them for relief.
- Narcolepsy: This disorder causes people to fall asleep suddenly during the day for periods of a few seconds to a number of minutes. It occurs regardless of how much sleep a person gets at night.
- Insomnia: Some 60 million Americans regularly have trouble falling or staying asleep, for a variety of reasons.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, you shouldlearn when to talk to your doctor.
Is Primary Snoring Nothing To Worry About
So if you know that you dont have OSA and instead simply snore, great. But this is not a reason for complacency. Primary snoring should not be considered normal, harmless or inevitable.
Whilst primary snoring itself may not present a direct, short-term health risk to you, if you share a bed, the disturbance and sleep deprivation for your partner can have health implications for them.
There is also evidence to suggest that primary snoring is a slippery slope towards OSA and other conditions.
Obviously, the factors that put you at risk of sleep apnea also predispose snoring. But now, scientists are now discovering that the very action of snoring itself can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea.
One recent study found that primary snoring is linked to nerve damage in the muscles of the upper airway. This results in swallowing difficulties for snorers and makes obstruction more likely .
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Health Consequences Of Sleep Apnea
The chronic sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can result in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and an increased risk of accidents and errors in your daily activities.
Sleep apnea also has a mental impact. It can trigger moodiness and irritability and cause anxiety and depression. It also increases your risk of other serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.
What Conditions Can Cause Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Some risk factors are considered while assessing the possibility of sleep apnea snoring. A typical adult with obstructive sleep apnea is overweight or obese male or a postmenopausal female presenting with excessive daytime sleepiness and the loud snoring at night when sleeping.4
Based on physical appearance and examination, some studies have reported that people sleep apnea snoring, may have larger than average neck circumference, crowded oropharynx, large tongue, and retrognathism, which is a condition in which the lower jaw is positioned further at the back than the upper jaw.4 Some studies also suggest that patients with refractory atrial fibrillation, resistance hypertension and history of stroke must be screened for sleep apnea, even if there are no symptoms.4 People with metabolic disorders, diabetes, and heart disease are considered at greater risk of sleep apnea snoring.
While these are just some of the features of people possibly having obstructive sleep apnea, the final diagnosis depends on the evaluation. A proper history of symptoms, medical evaluation, relevant investigations, and scans help to diagnose the condition. Note the symptoms that help identify sleep apnea snoring and seek medical advice, as appropriate. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help control the conditions and prevent further complications.
Do All Snorers Have Sleep Apnea
As sleep apnea has long-lasting health effects, it is believed to be a more serious condition than snoring. Do all snorers have sleep apnea? This is a very common question in the minds of snorers and their near ones, so that necessary treatment can be done. It is, therefore, necessary to understand both snoring and sleep apnea in detail.
Thus, while people with snoring and sleep apnea, both experience snoring, a temporary stoppage of breathing occurs only in sleep apnea.
Do all snorers have sleep apnea? The answer is no. All snorers need not have sleep apnea. Snoring can have other causes too, one of which is sleep apnea. But not all snorers need to have sleep apnea. Similarly, sleep apnea presents with a host of symptoms, a prominent one of them is snoring. But snoring in sleep apnea can be much louder, more annoying, associated with other complaints and can severely affect your sleep and health.
Snoring is the simple obstruction of the air passage, which makes noise when breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep-related breathing disorder, characterized by the periodic narrowing and obstruction of the airway during sleep.3 This results in periodic stopping of breathing and reduced supply of oxygen, which is more serious than just snoring due to obstruction.
Oral Appliances For Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Oral appliances made to treat obstructive sleep apnea are also called mandibular advancement devices . They are made of two pieces of acrylic that cover the upper and lower teeth, similar to a biteguard or orthodontic retainer. These pieces are connected together by some type of apparatus that allows the appliance to be adjusted. The appliances are constructed in such a way as to position and maintain the lower jaw in a forward position during sleep. This lifts the tongue away from the back of the throat, thus increasing the dimension of airway and decreasing the resistance to airflow. This is similar to the head tilt-chin lift used in basic life support to open the airway.
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Common Questions About Sleep Apnea Symptoms
If you snore, then you may or may not consider it a serious problem, depending on how consistent and loud it is. If your snoring indicates obstructive sleep apnea, however, then it can be a constant occurrence that is not only loud, but can also be detrimental to your overall wellbeing. If you snore loudly and distinctly every night, then it may be time to ask your dentist if sleep apnea may be the reason, and if you can benefit from a customized sleep appliance.
How To Tell The Difference Between Sleep Apnea & Snoring
If you have sleep apnea, only a sleep study can diagnose the disorder. However, if you snore loudly, gasp for air, or choke during sleep youll want to get a sleep study so we can get a clear diagnosis and start treatment right away. The good news is that the negative effects of sleep apnea can be reversed with treatment.
At North Texas Sleep Solutions, Dr. Lauck offers an oral appliance to treat sleep apnea and snoring. An oral appliance gently shifts your jaw forward, thereby preventing tissues from obstructing your airway or creating the auditory noise that comes with snoring.
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Central Sleep Apnea Causes And Risk Factors
Like obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is more common in men and people over the age of 65. But unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is often associated with serious illness, such as heart disease, stroke, neurological disease, or spinal or brainstem injury. Some people with obstructive sleep apnea can also develop central sleep apnea when theyre being treated with positive airway pressure devices.
Is It Sleep Apnea Or Just Snoring
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea?
The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesnt interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so youre less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day. The way you sound when youre snoring also provides clues. As mentioned above, if youre gasping, choking, or making other unusual sounds, you should suspect sleep apnea.
Keep in mind that even if you dont have sleep apnea, a snoring problem can get in the way of your bed partners rest and affect your own sleep quality. But there are tips and treatments that can help you stop snoring.
Why Sleep Apnea Is The Most Dangerous Cause Of Snoring
Sleep apnea is a serious condition causing frequent interruptions in your breathing during sleep. These interruptions can be just seconds long but will affect your sleep quality and leading to headaches, feeling sleepy and sluggish during the day, and moody.
If left untreated and especially when combined with similar conditions as bad sleep habits, aging, lack of weight control, and insufficient exercise, these interruptions in breathing can increase in length and frequency, leading to more serious conditions like:
- High blood pressure
How Do I Know If Im Snoring When I Sleep Alone
Unless someone else tells them, most people who snore arent aware of it, and this is part of why sleep apnea is underdiagnosed.
If you sleep alone, your best bet is to set up a recording device. It could be an old-school tape recorder or one of many smartphone apps, but the apps have the advantage of analyzing sound patterns for you to detect likely episodes of snoring. Its best to record for multiple nights since snoring may not occur every night. That being said, apps do not aid in the diagnosis of OSA.
If recording isnt in the cards, be on the lookout for other red flags related to disrupted sleep such as noticeable daytime sleepiness, fatigue, problems with attention or thinking, or unexplained mood changes.
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When Should You Speak With A Doctor About Snoring
A potential health concern for someone who snores is that snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea. If you snore and also have any of these other OSA symptoms, its a good idea to speak with a doctor:
- Pauses in breathing during sleep followed by choking, snorting, gasping sounds
- Waking up frequently at night
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
Snoring often goes unnoticed by the snorer rather, a bed partner or housemate alerts the affected individual about their snoring and other nighttime OSA symptoms. It could also be helpful to talk with a doctor if your snoring is affecting your bed partners sleep and you would like to explore treatment options.
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Common Causes Of Snoring
Almost everyone snores occasionally. Habitual snoring occurs in around 40% of adult women and 57% of adult men, and some people snore regularly without any other sleep-related symptoms. However, snoring can be caused by a sleep disorder called sleep apnea, which disrupts sleep and can lead to other health issues. Snoring may also be the result of a persons natural anatomy and weight, or behaviors such as drinking alcohol or sleeping in a certain position. Understanding the varied causes of snoring can help you determine whether your snoring is something you should be concerned about, and what steps you can take to address it.
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What Are The Signs Of Osa
There are a number of symptoms which suggest you may be suffering from OSA:
- Excessive sleepiness in the daytime
Side Note: What constitutes excessive?
We might all get a little sleepy during the day, but excessive sleepiness is where you are barely able to stay awake in a variety of day-to-day situations not just a warm, dimly lit room with a belly full of lunch!
- Persistent headaches in the morning
- Sore throat upon waking up
- Mood swings and difficulty concentrating
Whilst you may also experience these symptoms occasionally as a primary snorer or even a non-snorer, a persistent combination of all or most of them should be seen as a red flag.
Another crucial sign of OSA is if you have been observed gasping or choking in your sleep. For people who sleep alone, this can be very hard to recognise. This is where SnoreLab can help. So
Why Is Sleep Apnea And Snoring So Often Connected
Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disordered breathing that affects an estimated 25 million people in the U.S. . There are three main types of sleep apnea:
Of the three types, one is most closely related to snoring: obstructive sleep apnea.
In this type also the most common type of sleep apnea the sleepers airway becomes blocked by relaxed throat muscles and possibly even the tongue. Before the airway is completely blocked, air passing through the slight blockage causes vibration in the tissues, what we identify as snoring, especially if the sleeper is on their back.
The American Sleep Association estimates that approximately 90 million people in the U.S. snore. They separate these sleepers into two equal categories: simple snorers and those who potentially have obstructive sleep apnea. Simple math indicates the possibility of 45 million people with obstructive sleep apnea, 20 million more than current statistics have officially identified.
Snoring is just one of the many sleep apnea symptoms. Others include:
- Daytime fatigue and excessive sleepiness
- Mental fogginess and difficulty concentrating
- Noticeable cessation of breath followed by a choking intake of air
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
- Morning headaches or migraines
But can you have sleep apnea without snoring? Keep reading.
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If You Snore You Should Be Tested
So, if youre a snorer, we suspect theres a 75% chance you have some degree of sleep apnea. A three-quarters risk of having a life-threatening condition definitely deserves to be checked out. You should consider yourself at higher risk of sleep apnea if:
- You have symptoms of sleep apnea like daytime sleepiness
- You are a habitual snorer
- You snore loudly
Sleep Apnea & Snoring
Sleep apnea occurs when the tissues in your throat relax and block your airway, thereby restricting breathing and causing a sleep apnea event. A sleep apnea event is often followed by gasping for air or choking. Its rare that the person with the condition wakes up due to the event and its typically a sleeping partner who first notices these symptoms.
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How Does Sleep Apnea Severity Vary
The severity of your condition can be assessed by counting how many times you experience low-oxygen events. This helps to generate an AHI score, the apnea-hypopnea index. This measures the apnea or hypopnea episodes per hour of sleep:
- Apnea episode complete airflow blockage for at least ten seconds
- Hypopnea episode at least 50% reduction in airflow for at least ten seconds
Your AHI score relates to the severity of sleep apnea:
- 0-5 events per hour normal
- 5-15 events per hour mild sleep apnea
- 15-30 events per hour moderate sleep apnea
- 30+ events per hour severe sleep apnea
Your score is very important when deciding on the best way to treat your sleep apnea. Mild to moderate cases can be addressed with normal snoring reduction techniques and consumer remedies. If you have a severe case, continuous positive airway pressure devices are the most effective form of treatment.