Snoring affects about 35% of adults, while sleep apneas affects about 1% of adults in Nigeria. Although, the duo manifests together sometimes, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea disorder. Both sleep apnea and snoring are linked to a number a health conditions, it’s important to know what causes both conditions and when snoring is dangerous.
In snoring, the muscles in the throat relaxes, thereby allowing the tissue around the throat to narrow airway and become partially closed off. This results in a vibration when air passes through. The vibration causes the sound that is identified as snoring. The intensity of the snoring totally depends on many different factors, including body weight, sleeping position, and alcohol consumption. Not everyone snores every night, some do it occasionally.
Sleep apnea is somewhat similar to snoring, except that the airway becomes totally shrinked, leaving the individual gasping for breath at intervals. The typical pattern for someone with sleep apnea is to make attempts to at breathe or struggle to breathe for about 10 seconds and/or wake up with a loud snore to gasp for air. The sufferer totally falls asleep after trying to catch some air. This cycle can go on for hundreds of times in a night. The individuals involved may not be aware of the episodes until someone sleeping close to them informs them. Drowsiness might occur in the daytime due to distorted sleeping patterns.
To be really sure about any of the two, you might need to conduct a sleep study on yourself as guided by a doctor or your sleep partner might just help out. If you always feel you didn’t have adequate sleep during the night, and you’re always drowsy, and/or your partner tells you that at intervals, you were always gasping for breath with loud snores, then it might be sleep apnea.
There is a heavy constriction in the airways of someone suffering from sleep apnea. In snoring, the individual might not even wake up at intervals, but for sleep apnea, the individual wakes up at intervals to gasp for breath. Obstructive sleep apnea disturbs sleep unlike snoring. Due to a constriction of airways, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body is often disrupted.
Sleep apneas related snoring tends to be louder in volume than ordinary mild snoring. It seems the person tends to be gasping, choking or snorting.
Snoring becomes dangerous when it happens consistently and almost every night, when the sound is so loud that it wakes your partner up or when you feel drowsy most times during the day. These are pointers to you needing a doctor.
CAUSES OF SLEEP APNEA
Some factors might lead to sleep apnea and they include:
- Having a big neck
- Having large tonsils or adenoids
- Smoking or drinking alcohol
- Family history of sleep apnea
CAUSES OF SNORING
- Alcohol consumption
- Chronic nasal congestions
- Use of sedatives
- Large tonsils, or soft palate
Snoring really doesn’t come with so much complications, unlike sleep apnea which does. Some complications sleep apnea are:
- More likelihood to develop a stroke
- Loss of concentration
You might be wondering if it is possible to stop snoring. Most cases of infrequent snoring do not require treatment. The following can help to stop or reduce the frequency of snoring:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limit alcohol and smoking
- Adjusting sleeping position
- Reduce episodes of nasal congestions
There are recommendations by doctors to help treat sleep apnea and these include positive airway pressure (PAP) machine, mouthpiece, or implant.
Except you choke or gasp for breath in your sleep, snoring is usually not dangerous. Habitual snoring however, with pauses in breath in the night is an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea and over a long period might eventually lead to hypertension or other heart related diseases.