Sleep Apnea and Snoring are closely related, though they are two separate things. Usually a person who has Sleep Apnea also snores, but many people snore who do not have Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea can be life-threatening, while snoring doesn't cause the individual any harm.
Sleep Apnea is a common and sometimes serious condition in which a person's breathing becomes irregular during sleep. A person with Sleep Apnea may quit breathing or experience shallow breathing for 10-20 seconds at a time hundreds of times throughout the night, causing them to miss out on restorative sleep.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Snoring occur during sleep, so it can be difficult to identify symptoms. If you sleep with another person they may notice chronic loud snoring, interruptions in breathing, or gasping for breath. One symptom of Sleep Apnea and Snoring that you yourself can look for is fatigue during the day regardless of how much sleep you get at night. This is because people with Sleep Apnea are not getting restorative restful sleep at night. Symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Snoring in children include bed-wetting, excessive sweating during sleep, and night terrors. Daytime symptoms include hyperactivity, delayed growth, and irritability.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea and Snoring can be done by seeing a sleep specialist who will observe your sleeping behaviors. If you notice any symptoms of Sleep Apnea and Snoring, see a doctor immediately as Sleep Apnea can be very dangerous.
The most common causes of Sleep Apnea and Snoring are airway obstruction and a central nervous system problem. Airway obstruction Sleep Apnea is a result of the soft tissue at the back of throat relaxing and therefore blocking the airway. This airway obstruction also results in loud snoring. Snoring is rare, however, in Sleep Apnea caused by a central nervous system problem. This type of Sleep Apnea occurs because the brain fails to signal the breathing muscles. Sleep Apnea can also be caused by a combination of the two.
Though anyone can suffer from Sleep Apnea, some risk factors of Sleep Apnea and Snoring are known. People who are overweight, male, older than 65, and those who smoke have a higher risk of developing Sleep Apnea. Additionally those with a deviated septum, thick neck, or enlarged adenoids also have a higher risk for Sleep Apnea.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea and Snoring can be accomplished at home by doing a few self-help tasks such as losing weight, quitting smoking, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Throat exercises to strengthen the airway muscles can also help to prevent them from relaxing involuntarily. More severe cases of Sleep Apnea can be treated with breathing devices, surgery, and dental devices.
There are no medications for Sleep Apnea and Snoring, only for the fatigue associated with Sleep Apnea and Snoring.
Recovery from Sleep Apnea and Snoring is often possible through lifestyle changes and home treatments. In severe cases medical treatment may be able to provide a full recovery from Sleep Apnea and Snoring.
Sleeping on your side, using nasal dilators, and propping your head up while you sleep are a few steps that may help in the prevention of Sleep Apnea and Snoring.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.