Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware of it and think they’re just snoring. This is an easy mistake to make because snoring is one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea. In addition, both snoring and sleep apnea can be related to other health problems, and both can disrupt sleep.
However, there are some important differences between the two.
What is snoring?
Snoring are vibrations in the respiratory structures that happen when air movement is obstructed during sleep. Snoring may be caused by an elongated soft palate, the uvula, a large tongue or obstructions in your nasal structures among other things.
Although snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. And of course, many people who snore don't have sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that is characterized by abnormal breathing pauses during sleep. These breathing pauses (the 'apneas' in sleep apnea) may occur because of physical blockages to airflow, a lack of respiratory effort while sleeping, or a combination of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common (this is caused by blockages to the airways).
How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?
People who suffer from sleep apnea are often first made aware of it by their partners, who notice the pauses in breathing.
If you feel fatigued during the day and notice that things like your work performance, general vigilance and your ability to stay motivated have recently changed without another obvious reason, they may be caused by the interruptions to your sleep due to sleep apnea.
The only sure-fire way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to be assessed by a professional. A qualified medical professional can positively diagnose you, and get you the help you need.
Do I need treatment for sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is far more than just a nuisance. It can cause very severe health issues.
People that suffer from this condition will fall out of deep sleep when their breathing pauses, causing poor quality of sleep. It can trigger the release of stress hormones, change how your body uses its energy and can make you feel very tired during the day.
In addition, there are several potential negative health effects of inadequate sleep, such as weight gain, memory loss, skin aging, and more.
Sleep apnea may also lead to a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, certain cancers, and even sudden death.
Once you've been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you achieve a better night’s sleep with a variety of treatment options.