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Snoring and Sleep Apnea: How They are Connected
Snoring can be a puzzling condition. Those who snore can experience interrupted breathing and improper flow of air during sleep, not to mention the subsequent interruption of sleep not only for the sufferer but for the person sleeping next to them. Snoring has many causes, but did you know snoring can also be directly connected to sleep apnea? Read on to discover how these two conditions are related and how to treat them.
Snoring happens when tissue in your nose and throat vibrate due to insufficient movement of air through the airway. Those who snore may feel like they have tried everything to alleviate symptoms. There are countless products on the market designed to stop snoring. Instead of treating the symptoms of snoring, you may want to dive a little deeper into the reasons why you are snoring.
Sleep apnea is a disorder where the breath is paused from its regular rhythm during sleep. These pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Usually, loud snoring precedes the pauses. In order for sleep apnea to be diagnosed, five or more of these episodes must happen per hour.
The most common form of sleep apnea is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Accompanied by loud snoring, this form of apnea happens when the airway is blocked during sleep.
Causes and risk factors of snoring and sleep apnea
Snoring and sleep apnea share the same causes and risk factors. They are:
- Being overweight
- Being male (males are twice as likely to snore and have sleep apnea)
- Enlarged tonsils
- Having a small airway
Other causes of snoring
Sometimes the jaw can slip backward during sleep and block the airway due to a condition called UARS (Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome). As a reflexive response, your body automatically sends a signal for your jaw to jut forward so as to increase airflow. This can cause bruxism, also known as teeth grinding.
Although UARS is not characterized as a form of sleep apnea, the two conditions can look alike. Both are accompanied by snoring and undetected periods of waking up. The symptoms of UARS are very similar to OSA, but UARS does not cause the same level of breathing obstruction as OSA.
Sleep disorder symptoms
Since these conditions happen while asleep, many who snore often are not aware. Those affected by this condition usually find out when a loved one observes symptoms. Those who have sleep apnea may feel tired during the day. After an extended period of time, this condition can increase the chances for high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Sleep apnea treatments include the use of a CPAP machine during sleep to aid in airflow, lifestyle changes and mouthguards. Lifestyle changes to prevent snoring and sleep apnea consist of avoiding alcohol, losing weight, quitting smoking and sleeping on your side.
Surgery is sometimes necessary when other treatments and lifestyle changes prove to be ineffective. Sleep apnea-relieving surgery involves removing and reshaping areas of excess tissue in the throat to make way for smoother airflow. Usually, this means removing tonsils and reshaping the palate.
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