There is a difference between regular, habitual snoring and sleep apnea. Not all snorers will suffer from sleep apena but it can be a symptom, particularly for the louder snorers among us.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is a sleeping disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or a low intake of oxygen during sleep. Each pause is called an ‘apnea’ which can last anywhere from 10 seconds to a couple of minutes in severe cases.
The gaps in breathing can often occur dozens of times within an hour of sleep. The most common form of apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which occurs because of a physical blockage in the throat or nasal passages. This makes snoring a common feature of sleep apnea, as the soft tissue in your throat causes a blockage that prevents oxygen passing freely.
Often the sufferer of the disorder is unaware of the disorder, so it’s often pointed out by a member of the family or sleeping partner.
So if you are heavy snorer it’s worth taking note, that this in turn could be a symptom of sleep apnea. The reason for concern is that sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous disorder causing high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and even stroke.
If you have a reputation around your house as a noisy snorer it’s worth asking others to look out for the condition if you haven’t spotted it already, look out for pauses in breath intake followed by a gagging or choking sound, often the sleeper inadvertently wakes up without knowing what has transpired.
Treating the problem
The majority of moderate sleep apnea cases can be treated with a stop snoring device, by using one of these devices you can dramatically improve your sleep quality. However in severe cases we do recommend consulting a medical professional first, one of the most highly recommended methods is the continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) which clears the patient’s airway during sleep by pushing pressurized air through the throat.
Sleep Apnea is a serious condition, that may require medical advice sooner rather than later.
By Richard Owen