Snoring is an extremely common condition that results from the vibration of tissues in the throat during sleep. While snoring may seem like a minor nuisance to many, it can cause a strain in a relationship and also be a symptom of a more serious condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when there is an obstruction of breathing during sleep. This causes shallow breathing during sleep and the snorer can actually momentarily stop breathing. Sleep apnea can cause someone to unknowingly stop breathing several times throughout the night, which can be a major health risk.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Waking frequently during the night
Sleep apnea is not typically a life-threatening condition but can lead to serious problems over time without the patient even realizing it. Some problems that can arise from sleep apnea are an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. To identify whether or not this is an issue, often an overnight sleep study is conducted to evaluate the problem. Even those who do not have sleep apnea, but who snore, should be evaluated.
Sleep Apnea Causes
Some of the most common causes for snoring and sleep apnea include:
Long uvula and palate
A large tongue
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Treatment varies based on what is causing the snoring/sleep apnea and the severity of the condition. For mild cases, non-surgical methods may help, such as losing weight if obesity is the cause or dental appliances to prevent the tongue from blocking the throat and help keep airways open.
A CPAP machine may be recommended for some patients. A CPAP is a device with a mask that you wear over your nose or mouth. An air blower from the CPAP machine will force a continuous flow of air into the mask and through the nose or mouth. This air pressure will help prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing during sleep.
In some cases, surgery may be the most option for treating sleep apnea. Some surgeries include minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty, pillar implants, tongue base reduction, bariatric surgery, and more.