Snoring and Sleep ApneaWhen Should I be Concerned?
by Dr. Scott Bolding
If your partner complains about how much you snore at night, you’re not alone. Most people snore every now and then. And most of the time snoring is nothing to be concerned about. Snoring can be caused by a number of harmless issues, like nasal congestion.
However, sometimes snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Because sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness and other more serious health conditions it’s important to get it treated. The best way to know if your snoring is related to sleep apnea is to pay attention to your other symptoms and get a thorough diagnosis from a doctor or dentist.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
How Are Snoring and Sleep Apnea Related?
First, let’s learn a bit more about how snoring and sleep apnea are related.
Snoring and sleep apnea both happen because air has a hard time getting through your airway. Snoring happens when air passing through your airway makes the tissues in your airway vibrate. Sleep apnea happens when there is something blocking air from getting through.
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When you fall asleep the muscles in your airway naturally relax. Normally there is enough air to pass through easily. But sometimes there is something that keeps air from flowing through your mouth or nose well.
With snoring, most of the time air can still get through. But when your snoring is caused by sleep apnea, there are moments during the night when you stop breathing completely.
When you stop breathing your body signals to your brain that you’re not getting enough oxygen. So your brain wakes you up for a brief moment to reopen the airway. You may wake up with a gasp. Most of the time you don’t notice that this is happening because of how fast it is.
Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. But it’s not always related to sleep apnea. Sometimes snoring can be caused by nasal congestion or other issues.
How to Know If Snoring is Related to Sleep Apnea?
So how do you know if your snoring is related to sleep apnea?
The best way to know if you need to be concerned about snoring is by paying attention to other symptoms of sleep apnea and getting a diagnosis from a doctor who understands how the airway works.
Keep track of other symptoms
You will know if your snoring is related to sleep apnea if you notice other symptoms. As you go through your day take note of other things you feel.
- Do you feel tired during the day?
- Do you wake up with headaches?
- Does your partner hear you wake up at any point in the night?
Write these things down so you can talk to your doctor about them. If they’re happening consistently then you may have sleep apnea.
Get a Diagnosis From a Doctor or Dentist
You can’t know for sure if your snoring is caused by sleep apnea unless you get a thorough diagnosis from someone who understands how the airway works. So, once you’ve taken stock of your other symptoms you need to schedule a consultation to further investigate what’s going on.
You should look for a specialist who has a thorough understanding of the airway. That way they know what to look for when diagnosing sleep apnea.
Diagnosing sleep apnea involves first reviewing your symptoms and talking about your medical history. Then, we will perform a physical examination of your airway. Finally, we will likely recommend getting a sleep study. Sleep studies allow us to collect information on your breathing patterns while you sleep. Sleep studies are the best way to know if your snoring is related to sleep apnea.
Figuring out whether or not your snoring and sleep apnea are related is important. Sleep apnea can lead to more serious issues if left untreated. Daytime sleepiness can cause car wrecks and accidents at work. Long-term sleep apnea has been linked to memory problems and other mental health issues.
Obstructive sleep apnea – Symptoms and causes. (2021, July 27). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obstructive-sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352090
SleepApnea.org. (2022, September 7). Is it Snoring or Sleep Apnea? sleepapnea.org. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://www.sleepapnea.org/snoring/is-it-snoring-or-sleep-apnea/
Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea: What’s the Difference? (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved September 15, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/sleep-apnea/snoring-versus-sleep-apnea
Snoring or Sleep Apnea?
Get the Help You Need
Most of the time snoring is just a normal part of sleeping. But sometimes snoring is related to obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a much more serious issue. If you think there is a connection between your snoring and sleep apnea you should get a thorough diagnosis from a doctor or dentist. Once we can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea we can find the right treatment for you.