Are obstructive sleep apnea and snoring related? While most people will know someone who snores, or they might be a snorer themselves, obstructive sleep apnea is a dangerous medical condition that needs to be treated by a doctor.
The odd snore isn’t often a cause for concern and may only be a nuisance for those you live with. However, if you snore regularly, you’ll not only be disrupting your partner’s sleep but impairing your own sleep, too. So when should you seek help for your snoring and why?
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
Snoring is caused by the vibrations in your airways due to obstructions in your nose or mouth. Your airways can be obstructed by a number of things, including:
- Nasal blockages – Some people may only snore when they have a cold or flu or they’re suffering from some kind of allergy (e.g., hay fever). Or, the nose may be blocked by nasal polyps or a deviated septum
- Tongue and throat blockages – Poor muscle tone in the tongue or throat can cause them to become too relaxed while you’re asleep. This means they collapse and fall into your airway. Aging, sleeping pills, alcohol consumption, and deep sleep can worsen this problem. Equally, bulky throat tissue, often caused by being overweight, may block your pathways, and children with adenoids and large tonsils may also snore
- Soft palate or uvula blockages – A long uvula (the teardrop-shaped tissue that hangs at the back of your mouth) or long soft palate (the roof of your mouth), may narrow the opening from the throat to the nose. As these structures rub against each other, this can cause vibrations, which leads to the snoring sound
What Are the Risks Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
Those who snore regularly can be at risk of a variety of health problems, some more serious than others. And this is particularly the case if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a concerning sleep disorder that interrupts a person’s breathing while they’re asleep. This means they stop breathing during the night, reducing the amount of oxygen the brain and body are receiving. Over time, this can cause a number of problems, including:
- Waking up frequently – Even though you might not realize you’re waking up during the night, sleep apnea can disturb your sleep, which reduces the quality of it
- Light sleeping – If you’re conscious of your sleep apnea, you might not sleep well as you’re trying to maintain good airflow through your nose and mouth
- Difficulty concentrating – Due to lack of sleep, you may feel drowsy throughout the day which can interfere with your day-to-day activities
- Strain on your heart – Sleep apnea can, over a prolonged period of time, cause higher blood pressure and may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack
- Pulmonary hypertension – Due to the lower oxygen levels in your blood, this can constrict your lung’s blood vessels, which may lead to pulmonary hypertension
Other complications include obesity and chronic headaches, not to mention daytime fatigue and sleepiness.
Preventing Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Thankfully, if you are snoring on a regular basis, there are stop snoring devices that can help you. These work to prevent any blockages in your airways by moving your jaw forward and holding your tongue in place.
Equally, a specialist in obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders may recommend a mouthpiece to treat obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.
Despite the concerning side effects obstructive sleep apnea and snoring can have on your health, most people will find that a stop snoring mouthpiece will help improve their sleep (and their partners!) no end.
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