What Are Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
You may have been told that you snore by a partner, roommate, or other person who sleeps nearby. Snoring is very common and usually is not an indication of an underlying disorder.
Sometimes, however, snoring can be a sign of a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea. This means you have periods when you are not breathing for more than 10 seconds while you sleep. Periods of “apnea” are indicated by a long silence following a pause in your snoring. Apnea ends with a sudden snort or gasp when breathing resumes. Then, snoring starts all over again. If you have sleep apnea, this cycle generally happens several times a night.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
Causes and Symptoms
The major risk from this condition is stroke due to the multiple episodes when your brain is not getting enough oxygen. If sleep apnea is suspected, a sleep specialist can test you for it with a sleep study. In some people the cause of snoring remains unknown.
In some people snoring is caused by:
- Too much alcohol or sedation at bedtime (like sleeping pills or antihistamines)
- Nasal congestion from colds or allergies, especially if the congestion lasts a long time
- Enlarged adenoids and tonsils that block the airway
- Sleep apnea
- Being overweight, which leads to excessive neck tissue that puts pressure on the airway
- Last month of pregnancy
Symptoms of sleep apnea can be:
- Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
- Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep witnessed by another person
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates central sleep apnea
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Attention problems
If you think you might have symptoms of snoring or have any form of sleep apnea, treatment can ease your symptoms, may help prevent heart problems and other complications. We are here to help. Contact us for an assessment.