What is the difference between sleep apnea and snoring?

What is the difference between sleep apnea and snoring?

Sleep apnea and snoring certainly have some overlapping symptoms but they are very different issues. Here, our Delta dentists explain what sleep apnea is and some of the main differences between sleep apnea and snoring.

Snoring and sleep apnea both cause disruptions to natural sleep patterns and leave sufferers battling with the effects of poor sleep quality. Nonetheless, not all snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, and not all people suffering from sleep apnea will snore. 

What is snoring?

Snoring occurs when airflow becomes obstructed and causes the respiratory structures to vibrate. Snoring certainly can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) but, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. An elongated soft palate, a large tongue, or nasal obstructions are all common causes of airflow obstruction which could result in snoring. 

What is sleep apnea?

Characterized by shallow breathing or abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep, sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that requires medical diagnosis and treatment. Many sleep apnea sufferers don't even know that they have the condition until they are alerted to their symptoms by partners that sleep beside them. Those who share a bed with people suffering from sleep apnea often lose sleep due to their loved one's sleep apnea symptoms. 

There are 3 different types of sleep apnea, each is defined by the causes of the abnormal breathing.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Caused by a physical blockage to airflow,
  • Central Sleep Apnea - Caused by a lack of respiratory effort,
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea - Caused by a combination of both an obstruction and lack of respiratory effort.

What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping when trying to sleep
  • Choking while trying to sleep
  • Dry mouth when waking
  • Waking frequently throughout the night
  • Morning headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Night sweats
Often during waking hours, people suffering from sleep apnea feel fatigued and sleepy due to the poor quality of their sleep. This overwhelming feeling of fatigue can have some very negative impacts on their day-to-day life including their overall motivation, general alertness and work performance. 

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. If you suspect you may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact your Delta dentist today.

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