What is going on in the throat when a person snores?
The tissue in the back of the throat collapses onto the soft palate. This collapses the airway. As the person breathes, this area opens and closes. It’s amazing how loud it can be.
What is going on in the throat when a person has sleep apnea?
With Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the air passageway not only narrows, the person actually stops breathing. These pauses can last for up to a minute and occur repeatedly dozens or even hundreds of times per night.
What physical or lifestyle factors are linked to snoring and sleep apnea?
- Thick throat tissue
- Being overweight or obese
- Swollen tonsils and adenoids (this happens more frequently in children than adults)
- Long uvula or soft palate
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue
- Drinking alcohol or taking some medications can cause the throat muscles to collapse
- Deviated septum
- Nasal congestion
Do snoring and sleep apnea always occur together?
Many individuals with sleep apnea also snore. But not all snorers have sleep apnea. Snoring does not generally wake a person up during the night. Of course, it is likely to wake up the person’s bed partner.
I know that I snore. Does that mean I have sleep apnea?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I wake up multiple times during the night gasping for air?
- Am I often extremely tired during the day?
- Do you wake up with a headache or develop a headache as the day progresses?
- Do I nod off during the day because I am so sleepy?
- Is my mouth and throat dry when I wake up in the morning?
What if I don’t get treatment for snoring or sleep apnea?
Snoring is linked to several health conditions, many of which involve the cardiovascular system. High blood pressure is common with snorers and men and women with sleep apnea. Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) is risk. These heart-related conditions increase the risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Snoring and sleep apnea can cause or exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With this condition, stomach acids enter the throat while it is open, causing heartburn and other digestive problems.
It’s no surprise that snoring and sleep apnea affects a person’s mental health. We all need consistent, restorative sleep to handle stress. Lack of sleep is linked to memory issues, difficulty focusing, depression, and anxiety.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the most common type. It is caused by throat muscles relaxing and blocking the airway.
- Central Sleep Apnea: The cause of the breathing cessation originates in the central nervous system. The brain fails to control the breathing muscles.
- Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome (Treatment-emergent Central Sleep Apnea): This condition is present when a person has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Many dentists offer Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). A custom-made mouthpiece can keep your airway open throughout the night. This is a very effective treatment for snoring. It is also an effective treatment for one type of sleep apnea–obstructive sleep apnea.
We invite you to call us to schedule an appointment to discuss your sleep issues.
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