When many people think of sleep apnea they immediately think of snoring. However, it is important to understand the difference between the two. While some people suffering from sleep apnea might snore, not all actually do. Let’s take a look at sleep apnea, snoring and what the difference is.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. The “apnea” in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds and occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million American adults currently suffer from sleep apnea—so why not get treated now?

What is Snoring?

Approximately 45% of normal adults snore at least occasionally and about 25% are habitual snorers. But what causes snoring? The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet he soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing. Snoring can be both socially and medically disabling for various reasons. Socially, it can make the snorer an object of ridicule and can cause the bed partner to experience sleepless nights and fatigue. Medically, it disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of adequate rest, but it can also be a sign of sleep apnea.

What’s the Difference?

Yes, snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea—we can agree on that. However, just because you snore does not mean you have sleep apnea, and just because you have sleep apnea it does not necessarily mean you will snore. Either way, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment options. If you snore and might be concerned that you have sleep apnea, talk to your dentist or doctor—it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you have any questions about snoring and sleep apnea, please contact Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia. We can work with you to determine if your snoring is sleep apnea, or if it is just plain-old snoring.