The Difference Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Regular snoring is not considered to be a serious problem, however, unlike sleep apnea snoring, generalized snoring can be an early warning sign of existing sleep apnea. In fact, snoring affects up to 37 million Americans on a regular basis and 90 million Americans occasionally snore at some point in their lives with no serious medical consequences. However, combined with other symptoms it can indicate that it’s time to get screened for sleep apnea.
Factors related to generalized snoring include:
- Sleeping position
- Consumption of alcohol
- Sleep deprivation
Sleep Apnea Snoring
The snoring associated with sleep apnea is heavy and harsh. These apneas occur as a result of the individual being unable to properly breathe. There is a physical blockage to the airflow and snoring becomes a sign of struggle.
Additional factors of sleep apnea snoring may include:
- Large neck
- Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption
If you suspect that you may be suffering from snoring or sleep apnea, the initial step is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Huff. He will perform a comprehensive examination and refer patients to a sleep center for a diagnosis. Once he reviews your sleep study, your treatment plan can then be customized to address your condition and specific needs.
The Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Ignoring your sleep apnea symptoms can be fatal. People with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to suffer from strokes and heart attacks. The daytime fatigue caused by sleep apnea doesn’t just hurt your work performance. In fact, it also results in numerous automobile accidents that take countless lives and cause billions of dollars worth of damage every year. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, impotence, and obesity are all conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by sleep apnea.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
There are three major types of sleep apnea, Central Sleep Apnea, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and Complex Sleep Apnea (or Mixed Sleep Apnea). Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the body to breathe. However, over ninety percent of sleep apnea cases are due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This happens when the patient’s airflow is blocked by an obstruction in the airway, somewhere between the nasal passage and the lungs. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. It’s important to note that some patients being treated for obstructive sleep apnea with the use of a CPAP machine may develop symptoms of central sleep apnea.
Frequently Asked Questions About Snoring & Sleep Apnea
What causes snoring?
Snoring is caused by a blockage in the nasal passage or throat that prevents airflow, which makes it difficult to breathe properly. A weak muscle in the roof of your mouth can cause the tongue or throat tissues to relax, which narrows the airway and reduces oxygen levels.
If you snore and are worried about having sleep apnea, Dr. Huff can help you find a solution to your breathing problem. Schedule a consultation with us to get started by calling our Kerrville office at (830) 715-4484.
Is snoring normal?
Snoring is a very common condition that affects millions of people daily. Occasional snoring isn’t serious, but if your snoring occurs habitually or loudly, it may be cause for concern. Snoring will likely disrupt sleep patterns and affect the quality of your and your partner’s sleep.
Understanding your snoring habits and discovering any additional symptoms you may be experiencing can help you receive the right care. Undergoing a sleep study will help Dr. Huff determine which treatment methods will best alleviate your symptoms.
How do I tell the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?
The best way to determine the difference between snoring and sleep apnea is to assess how you feel during the day. While normal snoring can have an effect on the quality of your sleep, sleep apnea forces you awake several times throughout the night which can leave you tired in the morning.
If you experience tiredness and fatigue during the day, that harmless snoring might actually be sleep apnea. At the first sign of this condition, it’s best to schedule an appointment at our Kerrville office to undergo a sleep test.
Can snoring caused by sleep apnea be cured?
If your snoring and sleep apnea symptoms are interfering with your daily life, Dr. Huff may recommend a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. Treatment with this device can help eliminate snoring and reduce the effects of sleep apnea by keeping your upper airway passages open while you sleep.
CPAP machines are the most effective treatment methods for mild to severe sleep apnea. However, it isn’t for everyone. Dr. Huff may instead recommend lifestyle changes or an oral appliance. You can contact our Kerrville office at (830) 715-4484 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Huff so he can determine which treatment will be most effective for you.
What sleeping position helps reduce snoring?
Many patients don’t realize that their sleeping position may be contributing to their snoring or sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back increases the likelihood of snoring or experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. This position compresses your airways while you sleep, which is why breathing issues are so prevalent.
Side sleeping doesn’t put compression on your airways and could help reduce sleep apnea symptoms, such as loud snoring. This position also comes with a host of other benefits, such as less low back or joint pain.