Sleep Apnea: Symptoms Causes And Treatments
22 November 2017
Sleep apnea is a condition in which people experience pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, around 22 million Americans may suffer from sleep apnea and around 80 percent of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea goes undiagnosed.
These pauses in breathing, called apneas, can occur as often as 30 or more times per hour, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Sleep apnea may result in poor sleep and lead to daytime sleepiness. Between 12 and 18 million U.S. adults have sleep apnea, the NHLBI says.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
- Snores loudly and heavily.
- Snores and feels sleepy during the day.
- Snores and falls asleep at inappropriate times, such as when talking or while eating.
- Stops breathing, gasps, or chokes during sleep.
Patient Discussion About Snoring
Q. In what way snoring is related to ADHD? My 5 year old son snores at night. He has disturbed sleep too and as a result the very next morning he remains sleepy for the day. This makes him tired and he is showing the signs of denial to go to school and make excuses. I have taken him to the doctor for the snoring problem. After some rounds of check up and some tests and with the help of a psychologist he was confirmed for ADHD. In what way snoring is related to ADHD?
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When Does It Sound Like Snoring But It Is Not
There could be times when the baby seems to be snoring, but the sound originates from the babys throat. This is called stridor, which is the medical term for noisy breathing. This can be due to the following reasons.
- Stridor is quite commonly caused by laryngomalacia, which is predominantly a congenital condition, where the soft cartilaginous lining atop the upper larynx begins to fold inwards, eventually collapsing into the airway. The baby will usually breathe noisily with a sound that resembles snoring. It originates from the larynx, where air meets resistance due to constriction causing the vibration of the tissue.
- Symptoms: The major symptom of laryngomalacia is noisy breathing and loud snoring-like sound from the throat when the baby is asleep. The baby may even wheeze while breathing out and snore while breastfeeding or just after being fed. It happens because babies do not have the ability to swallow and breathe simultaneously, as the larynx is positioned higher in their neck .
- A constricted larynx causes the sound when the baby breathes during feeding. Keep in mind, though, that it is not exactly snoring since the vibrations are much lower down the airway than they are in actual snoring.
While these conditions warrant medical attention, there are certain situations where you must take your little one to a doctor quickly.
Why Do People Snore
For breathing at rest, it is ideal to breathe through the nose. The nose acts as a humidifier, heater, and filter for the incoming air. When we breathe through our mouth, these modifications to the air entering our lungs occur to a lesser extent. Our lungs are still able to use the colder, drier, dirtier air; but you may have noticed that breathing really cold, dry, or dirty air can be uncomfortable. Therefore, our bodies naturally want to breathe through the nose if possible.
The nose is made up of two parallel passages, one on each side, called the nasal cavities. They are separated by a thin wall , which is a relatively flat wall of cartilage, bone, and lining tissue . On the lateral side of each passage, there are three nasal turbinates, which are long, cylindrical-shaped structures that lie roughly parallel to the floor of the nose. The turbinates contain many small blood vessels that function to regulate airflow. If the blood vessels in the turbinates increase in size, the turbinate as a whole swell, and the flow of air decreases. If the vessels narrow, the turbinates become smaller, and airflow increases.
Mouth breathing and snoring
As discussed above, we naturally want to breathe through our noses. Some people cannot breathe through their noses because of the obstruction of the nasal passages. This can be caused by a deviation of the nasal septum, allergies, sinus infections, swelling of the turbinates, or large adenoids .
The soft palate and snoring
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Sometimes Snoring Is No Big Deal
TRUE, BUT ;Snoring can be an isolated phenomenonthat is, you can snore and not have sleep apnea. But some people who snore might have apnea and not know it because the nighttime disturbances and daytime fatigue are subtle, Dr. Pervez says. Its;also;possible to have;relatively mild symptoms of daytime sleepiness;and still have bad enough apnea that treatment is required. Plus, some research indicates that people who snore have higher blood pressure.
Acoustic Characteristics Of Snoring Sounds
The mean number of snoring events for women in the comparison group and OSA group was 594 ± 127 and 1,042 ± 265 ; for men in the comparison group and OSA group the mean number of snoring events was 902 ± 310 and 1,023 ± 143 , respectively. Snoring index was higher in SWS compared to S2 and REM; men have higher snoring index than women in all sleep stages . When combining the groups and all sleep stages, the % snoring in men and women was 17.4 ± 2.1% and 11.5 ± 2.0% , respectively. Although the average % snoring was higher in OSA than in control groups in both sexes, it did not reach statistical significance.
Snoring index and intensity for each sleep stage.
Snoring index and intensity for each sleep stage. *Significant difference between sexes ; #significant differences between slow wave sleep and other sleep stages . Significant differences were determined by two-way analysis of variance . Values are mean ± standard error of the mean. REM = rapid eye movement.
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How Do I Know For Sure
Often, you wont suspect that you have sleep apnea until a family member points out that youve been gasping and snorting, as well as snoring. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits, and there is no blood test that can diagnose it.
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone.
If you think you might have sleep apnea, talk with your doctor. There are several things he or she might recommend to determine whether you have obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, including:
Keeping a sleep diary
The NIH suggests keeping a sleep diary for a couple of weeks, and then bringing it to your next doctors appointment.
Write down when you go to sleep, wake up, and take naps. Also write down how much you sleep each night, how rested you feel in the morning, and how sleepy you feel at various times during the day. Your doctor will also want to know how loudly you snore, how often, and whether you gasp or choke while youre sleeping
Its also a good idea to find out if you have a family history of snoring and sleep apnea.
Your doctor will check your mouth, nose and throat for extra or large tissues. Children who have sleep apnea might have enlarged tonsils.
Sleep studies are the most accurate tests for diagnosing sleep apnea and its severity.
There are two types:
Snoring Or Sleep Apnea: They Can Be Quite Different Things
Millions of Americans suffer from snoring activity during sleep. While some of these people are simple snorers or primary snorers, many have a serious sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea .
Understanding the differences between sleep apnea and primary snoring is the first step to effective treatment of both conditions. For all the people across the country who are getting nudged or elbowed throughout the night from frustrated bed partners, its important to know what their snoring means, and how they can silence it.
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Snoring Tired You May Have Sleep Apnea
Snoring partial obstruction of the airway
OSA complete obstruction of the airway
CPAP therapy restores your normal breathing
If you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea and require CPAP therapy treatment, choose PureFlow Healthcare! For more information about sleep apnea and CPAP therapy, please visit or call to speak to one of our specialists.
What Problems Can Snoring Cause
- Generally the problem is for the person sleeping next to you.
- On a serious note, some people say that snoring has led to the breakdown of their marriage.
- Generally, however, snoring isn’t harmful for your health.
- The only exception is if you are overweight and literally stop breathing for 5-10 seconds in your sleep. That is something called obstructive sleep apnoea and can be harmful.
- Some people wake themselves up from snoring too loudly and so have a disturbed night, leaving them feeling tired in the morning.
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Snoring Vs Sleep Apnea Is There A Difference
Nobody likes to share a bed with a snorer. Its funny at times, but it can rob you of sleep and put a strain on your relationship with your partner. And it can be dangerous.
Snoring is a major symptom of a serious condition called sleep apnea, characterized by interrupted breathing throughout the night. Its a disorder that carries serious long-term health consequences.
Snoring is a marker of the airway being narrow, so it can be a sign of something more sinister, like clinical sleep apnea.
Snoring is a marker of the airway being narrow, so it can be a sign of something more sinister, like clinical sleep apnea, says;Adnan Pervez, MD, medical director of the UNC Rex Sleep Disorders Center.
Ask yourself these questions to find out what you know about snoring, sleep apnea and how to tell the difference between the two.
What Are The Causes
Agonal breathing can occur when someone has gone into cardiac arrest. Unlike a heart attack which happens when one or more arteries narrow and stop blood from reaching the heart muscle cardiac arrest is an electrical problem. During cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating effectively. This is known as an arrhythmia, or pattern of irregular heartbeats.
Blood continues to flow briefly in the brain and other organs, which can cause gasps for a few minutes after the heart stops. If cardiac arrest is the cause of agonal breathing, the labored breaths may only last a few minutes. Having had a heart attack makes it more likely to have cardiac arrest.
Another common cause of agonal breathing is cerebral ischemia, or a reduction in blood flow to the brain. This can be caused by a ministroke due to a blood flow blockage within a brain blood vessel. It can also be caused by a hemorrhagic stroke due to a bleeding blood vessel within the brain. Either can lead to a condition called cerebral hypoxia, which is insufficient oxygen supply to the brain regardless of the cause. The brain can have permanent damage if its deprived of oxygen for too long.
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Wearing A Breathing Mask While You Sleep
This mask is called a continuous positive airway pressure mask, or CPAP mask. Wearing it supplies you with a flow of constant air that keeps your airway open while you sleep.
Other treatments for apnea include:
- taking medications that stimulate breathing
- using a ventilator device to regulate your breathing patterns, called adaptive servo-ventilation
- having surgery to remove obstructions from the airways
- using a mouthpiece to keep the airways open
- administering caffeine intravenously in-hospital for apnea of prematurity
How Can I Tell If My Child Might Have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Snoring or noisy breathing is common in children but may also be the first sign of obstructive sleep apnoea.
Other signs of possible sleep apnoea in a child that snores include:
- being overweight or obese as these children are at greater risk than other children
- restlessness during sleep
- short pauses in breathing – although the chest is moving, no air is moving through the nose and mouth
- mouth breathing when asleep or awake – the passage to the nose may be completely blocked
- daytime sleepiness or irritability
- hyperactivity during the day
This is a video of a child with severe obstructive sleep apnoea. You can see his chest sucking in with each breath. The noises you can hear are because his airway is partly blocked.;
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Causes Of Breathing Stopping During Sleep
Sleep-related breathing disturbances are fairly common. The most familiar one to most people is snoring. The characteristic sound is caused by vibration in the tissues of your upper airway while you breathe.
It is also possible for you to completely stop breathing for a while. These breathing pauses are called sleep apnea, from the Greek for no breath. By definition, apnea events last at least 10 seconds, but they can stretch on for several minutes.
The most common cause of apnea is the sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea . OSA occurs when the tissues of the upper airwaythe tongue, soft palate, and uvulacollapse into the throat and block the normal airflow.
Your body may still make an effort to breathe, with the chest and abdomen moving, but the air can’t get past the obstruction. As a result, airflow through your nose and mouth is reduced or cut off during these periods.
Other potential causes of disturbed breathing during sleep are less common. They include:
Wear A Nasal Strip Or Dilator
Internal and external nasal dilators are geared toward improving airflow as you sleep. As a result, they may reduce snoring. These small devices are available over-the-counter online and in most drug stores for relatively low prices.
Both types of nasal dilators are small, flexible strips that use tension to open the nasal passages. A nasal strip, or external dilator, sticks to the outside of the nose with adhesive. As it tries to retain its shape, it pulls outward, lifting skin on the nose and opening the nasal passages. An internal nasal dilator operates similarly, but from the inside. Instead of pulling on the outside of the nose, it pushes outward. Studies show that both types of dilators reduce snoring, but internal dilators tend to be more effective.
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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need
See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.
If a mighty rumble emanates from your nose or throat while youre sleeping, should you be concerned? Aside from the strain it can put on your relationship with your partner , that snore could be a sign of a more serious health problem.
If you gasp or gag or snort while snoring, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. But, how do you know for sure?
What Is The Treatment For Noisy Breathing
Many treatment options are available for noisy breathing and depend on the cause of the symptoms. At times, monitoring and supportive care are recommended. Certain medications may be helpful in treating symptoms or managing related conditions. For more severe issues, surgery may be recommended. Your Pediatric Otolaryngologist will discuss all possible treatment options with you and make recommendations for the most appropriate treatment.
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Initial And Ongoing Treatment
Snoring is often treated successfully by making lifestyle changes. You can:
- Lose weight .
- Go to bed at the same time every night and get plenty of sleep.
- Sleep on your side, not on your back. Try sewing a pocket in the middle of the back of your pyjama top, putting a tennis ball into the pocket, and stitching it closed. This will help keep you from sleeping on your back.
- Avoid using alcohol and sedatives before bed.
- Quit smoking.
- Raise the head of your bed 10 cm to 15 cm by putting bricks under the legs of the bed .
- Promptly treat breathing problems, such as a stuffy nose caused by a cold or allergies.
- Use a nasal dilator to help keep your airway open. This is a device, such as nose strips or disks, that you attach to the outside of your nose while you sleep.
If nasal congestion is present, you can try clearing your nasal passages or using medicines such as decongestants and nasal corticosteroid sprays. These open the airway, permitting a smoother airflow, and may reduce snoring. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not use the medicine longer than the label says.
Oral breathing devices, which push the tongue and jaw forward to improve airflow, sometimes can treat snoring, especially if it is caused by jaw position during sleep.
If your bed partner is bothered by your snoring, he or she may try using earplugs or machines that play ambient music or natural sounds. These can block or cover up the noise.
What Snores To Listen Out For
Listen to what normal snoring sounds like at the beginning of this video. At minute 1:10 you can hear the snoring and gasping that is characteristic of sleep apnea.
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“During the first minute he has regular rhythmic snoring,” Voigt says. “Then, in the second minute he has a pause, or no breathing, followed by a big gasp for air.”
Often, people with sleep apnea don’t wake to consciousness, so they don’t know they have a problem. If you sleep with someone who snores, you’re in a good position to help flag the issue. Then, it’s best to get it checked out by a doctor who can diagnose the problem.
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