SNORING AND SLEEP APNEA

ALL ABOUT SNORING

 It is noisy breathing while you sleep. It’s a common condition that can affect anyone, although it happens more often in men and people who are overweight. Snoring tends to get worse with age.

Snoring once in a while isn’t usually a serious problem. It’s mostly a nuisance for your bed partner. But if you’re a long-term snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you, you hurt your own sleep quality.

Snoring can itself be a symptom of a health problem like obstructive sleep apnea. If you snore often or very loudly, you might need medical help so you (and your loved ones) can get a good night’s sleep.

What is the cause of my snoring?

Snoring happens when the flow of air through your mouth and nose is blocked. Several things can interfere with air flow, including:

  • Blocked nasal airways:Some people snore only during allergy season or when they have a sinus infection. Problems in your nose such as a deviated septum (when the wall that separates one nostril from the other is off-center) or nasal polyps can also block your airways.
  • Poor muscle tone in your throat and tongue:Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse into your airway.
  • Bulky throat tissue:Being overweight can cause this. Some children have large tonsils and adenoids that make them snore.
  • Long soft palate and/or uvula:A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in the back of your mouth) can narrow the opening from your nose to your throat. When you breathe, this causes them to vibrate and bump against one another, and your airway becomes blocked.
  • Alcohol and drug use:Drinking alcohol or taking muscle relaxers can also make your tongue and throat muscles relax too much.
  • Sleep position:Sleeping on your back can make you snore.
  • Sleep deprivation:Your throat muscles might relax too much if you’re not getting enough sleep.

Snoring Diagnosis and Treatment

Your partner might be the person who tells you that you snore. Your doctor will ask both of you about your symptoms.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep 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.

Types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA):The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

ILL Effects of Sleep Apnea

If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of health problems, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Worsening of ADHD
  • Headaches

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

When to see your ENT Doctor?

Loud snoring can indicate a potentially serious problem, but not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. Talk to your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of sleep apnea. Ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you fatigued, sleepy and irritable.