Millions of people snore however it could be sign of something more serious, Sleep Apnea. If left untreated sleep apnea can result in an increased risk for a growing number of health problems such as: high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heart beat, heart attack, diabetes, depression, anxiety. Snoring and OSA can take a toll on your quality of life since these problems can often cause excessive daytime sleepiness which can affect your relationships and productivity.
OSA can affect children as well as adults however it more common in older people particularly men who are over weight. Symptoms of OSA include:
Falling asleep during the daytime
Loud snoring or snoring with intermittent pauses
Poor memory and mental alertness
What Exactly is Sleep Apnea?
It is disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.
In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) the tongue and soft tissues at the back your throat block or obstruct air from entering the lungs. If the amount of oxygen in your blood drops too low your brain alerts your body to unblock the airway by tightening the throat muscles. You partially awaken and the flow of air starts agin. This will happen throughout the night.
In Snoring the tongue and soft palate collapse partially blocking air from moving resulting in a vibration of your throat muscles creating a snoring sound.
What Should You Do?
If you have any of these symptoms you should see your primary care physician or a sleep disorder physician for evaluation.
Diagnosis and proper treatment of your sleep disorder can only be determined by a detailed sleep study.
How is OSA Treated
If your sleep apnea is due to an Obstructed airway there are severel treatments available:
Life Style Changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, not smoking, and following good sleep habits as well as sleeping on your side.
CPAP Machine which is a machine that forces continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) into your nose and throat to keep the air passages open while you sleep. It is effective for moderate to severe OSA.
Oral Appliance Therapy uses a plastic device which is similar to an athletic mouth guard. This device moves your lower jaw slightly forward allowing you tongue and soft tissues from falling back in your throat. This appliance treats snoring and mild to moderate OSA.
Surgery can be performed to remove excess tissue in your throat to allow air to move more freely.
It is important to note that occasional snoring may not be serious however if you are a heavy snorer and have several symptoms of sleep apnea you should speak to your physician to rule out anything more serious.