If your sleep partner is a chronic snorer, do you ever wonder if he or she is suffering from sleep apnea? One of the most common symptoms of OSA, obstructive sleep apnea, is excessively loud and chronic snoring. However, just because you or your partner snore, it doesn’t mean that either or both of you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea has a very distinct symptom that sets it apart from snoring and can be diagnosed via a sleep study.
What is Snoring?
Snoring takes place when your oral and throat tissues become relaxed and limp while you sleep. As you breathe in, the air passes through your airway which is being partially blocked by the relaxed tissue. As the air passes the tissue, it causes it to vibrate which produces the snoring sound. Snoring is that simple.
What is OSA?
Obstructive sleep apnea involves snoring, too. However, it is a much more serious condition because when your oral and throat tissues relax in the case of OSA, they actually close off your breathing airway, blocking your intake of oxygen. When you stop breathing, your brain will signal you to wake up and begin to breathe again. This is called an apneic event. During a sleep study the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) is measured per hour. The AHI is the average number of disordered breathing events that occur hourly. Obstructive sleep apnea is determined when:
- The patient experiences an AHI of 5 or greater with the presence of associated symptoms such as excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or impaired cognition.
- The patient experiences an AHI of 15 or greater with or without the presence of associated symptoms.
OSA is a risk factor for cardiac arrest and stroke. Therefore, if you suspect that you or a loved one has OSA, bring it to the attention of your dentist ASAP.