Sleep apnea and snoring are related and overlapping sleeping disorders that involve interrupted and obstructed normal breathing. Sleep apnea is a more serious condition that requires medical attention and devices to help assist with breathing. Snoring is often an indicator or side effect of a larger health problem or circumstance. Learn about the difference between the two and some interventions below.
A sleeping disorder where breathing periodically stops and starts that manifests in a few varying forms. Snoring is a possible indicator of its presence, especially paired with feeling fatigued even after a long night’s sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea and involves throat muscles relaxing. Other types involve the brain not sending the right signals for proper breathing.
Signs of Sleep Apnea include:
- Awaking gasping for air
- Cessation of breathing for brief periods
- Dry mouth
- Lack of focus during the day
It can be difficult to tell if you have sleep apnea if you sleep alone and there is no one to report your snoring or when your breathing stops and starts again. If you wake up gasping for air, have a dry mouth, feeling overly tired even after a full night’s rest, you might be experiencing the disorder. In addition to the dangers of having respiration interrupted, the risk for cardiovascular conditions like heart attack and stroke are increased by sleep apnea.
A device for the mouth can be made by professionals like those at Dentistry on 7th who specialize in customizing devices for patients. This appliance holds the jaw in the right position to stop the airway from collapsing. This is particularly important for children who suffer from this sleeping disorder. They are effective 90% of the time and are simple and straightforward to use versus other methods.
A CPAP system is a ventilator machine worn at night that uses continuous air pressure to keep airways open. It is a common and effective method to treat sleep apnea and other respiratory conditions. Nasal CPAP machines are controversial for use with children and infants. It may increase instances of swallowing air which can cause bloating, gas pains, and distension.
Snoring is periodic noises made through the mouth and nose during sleep when breathing is partially obstructed in some way. It is closely related to sleep apnea but everyone who snores does not necessarily have sleep apnea. Breathing doesn’t always completely stop. Many adults snore: as many as 40% after the age of 40. It can be an indicator of another more serious problem, and at the very least, it interrupts a good quality sleep of the snorer and anyone who can hear them (second hand snoring).
Snoring can also be helped with an oral device as above to open the airways and properly position the mouth and jaw during sleep. A custom-fit device is the most comfortable because it fits the mouth in a space-efficient way and accommodates curves and mouth shape.
There is an increased risk of sleep apnea and snoring associated with:
- Obesity, due to fat deposits around airways
- Neck size
- Narrow airways, naturally or through a temporary condition or illness
- Males experience sleep apnea more frequently, but its occurrence rises in older females
- Older age
- Alcohol, sedatives, and any substances that relaxes throat muscles
- Smoking, which increases fluid retention and inflammation of the respiratory system
- A cold or nasal congestion
- Heart conditions
- Narcotics and pain medication
If you suspect you or someone in your family has sleep apnea or chronic snoring problems, it’s important to talk to a doctor and a dental health professional about treatment options.