While you might think that snoring isn’t something to be overly concerned about, you might want to reconsider that opinion. Loud, frequent snoring might be a sign of sleep apnea, a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. However, it is important to distinguish between snoring and sleep apnea. By understanding the difference, you can take better care of yourself and your well-being.

What is snoring?

Severe snoring can cause a variety of problems. For example, it can lead to sleep disturbances for the snower and other household members. It can even lead to pauses in breathing and waking episodes. Snoring does not always mean you have sleep apnea, but chronic snoring may indicate an underlying sleep disorder. If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes and even car accidents due to sleepiness while driving.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder that is serious and potentially life-threatening. It is characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are:

  • Central Sleep Apnea – the upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – the lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea – this is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.
  • The signs and symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping or choking during the night, unrefreshed sleep, fragmented sleep, clouded memory, irritability, personality changes and morning headaches.

Does your partner or a family member suffer from chronic snoring and pauses in breathing while sleeping? If so, it is important to contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on sleep apnea and available treatment options.