For most people, sleep apnea and snoring are virtually the same. While both conditions are regarded as sleeping disorders and the symptoms are somewhat similar, they couldn’t be more different from one another. The fact is, some people are loud snorers but they do not suffer from sleep apnea and vice versa.
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Sleep Apnea Explained
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder wherein breathing is obstructed briefly and repeatedly during sleep. This condition comes in three types: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome. More than 18 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Severe sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Waking up choking or gasping for air
- Severe fatigue
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and low libido
- Recurrent insomnia
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common of all sleep apnea types. It occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax to a point where they collapse, blocking the airways temporarily. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain fails to signal the throat muscles to contract, causing breathing to stop temporarily. Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome, which is the most serious of all sleep apnea types, occurs when the patient is suffering from OSA and CSA at the same time.
Image used under Creative Commons from Erin (Quotes)
Snoring is a condition wherein the soft tissues at the back of the upper throat and soft palate collapse during sleep, causing the soft palate and uvula to vibrate while breathing, causing loud noises. The blockage causes the soft palate and uvula to vibrate, causing loud noises during breathing. About 45% of adults snore occasionally while 25% are habitual and loud snorers.
Symptoms of Snoring
- Noise during sleep
- Severe daytime sleepiness
- Loss of focus during the day
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat
- Restless sleep
- Waking up gasping or choking for air
- Chest pain at night
- Bed partner’s sleep is affected
- Waking up choking or gasping
While snoring isn’t as serious as sleep apnea, it can be a socially and medically disabling condition. A chronic snorer can be an object of ridicule. Bed partners could lose sleep because of the incessant snoring. Snoring can also affect a patient’s sleeping pattern, causing fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and sleep deprivation.
Sleep Apnea VS Snoring: What’s the Difference?
Snoring is caused by the vibrations of tissues in the airways during sleep, it is not caused by partial or complete blockage of the airways. On the other hand, sleep apnea is caused by blocked airways, causing breathing to stop several times in the night. Not all snorers suffer from sleep apnea and not all patients who suffer from sleep apnea snore. However, 15% of people who snore suffer from sleep apnea.
Either way, it’s important to get yourself checked by a specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that you’re suffering from sleep apnea, talk to a dentist or a doctor.
Image used under Creative Commons from Dan Ox
Do You Suffer from Sleep Apnea or Snoring?
Between the two sleep disorders, sleep apnea is the more serious condition, which is why consulting with a physician is important. If say, you suspect that you might be suffering either condition, we’d recommend keeping an overnight sleep study or an at-home sleep test to determine which condition you suffer from. Undiagnosed sleep apnea could lead to mental and physical problems.
If you are a habitual snorer, using orthopedic pillows may help reduce snoring at night. These pillows are ergonomically designed to provide shoulder and neck support, easing snoring. On the other hand, if your bed partner is a chronic snorer, use earplugs to block the noise. Here is a of noise-cancelling earplugs you should try.