Do you know a notorious snorer? Maybe it’s you or maybe it’s your partner. Either way, chances are the answer is yes, that you do know someone who snores. Snoring is often leveraged as a joke to tease our loved ones but it can just as easily be discounted as being more innocent than it could potentially be. Snoring is often the first sign of sleep apnea.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring occurs when the loose soft tissue in the airway vibrates. This vibration usually happens due to a blockage or obstruction in our breathing passages. Some common causes of snoring include:
- Alcohol consumption before bed
- Sleep inducing medications
- Small, retruded, or displaced jaw
- Nasal obstructions (deviated septum)
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
Dangerous or Innocent?
Because snoring results from soft tissue in the airway vibrating, it can often be used as an indicator of a sleep disorder. On other occasions, it could also be the result of a combination of a few non-life-threatening factors. For example, old age or sleeping on the back can contribute to snoring but don’t necessarily indicate sleep apnea. However, when snoring is present with other symptoms such as high blood pressure, headaches, or chronic dry mouth, it could mean that snoring isn’t so innocent after all. Snoring that sounds more like a gasp for air could also mean that the snoring is indicative of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring isn’t the innocent act people think it is. In fact, snoring can often be a sign of a serious condition such as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is characterized by periods of complete loss of airflow during sleep. In contrast, situations where airflow is significantly reduced but not absent are called hypopneas. Snoring can accompany both of these events and in these situations, be dangerous.
Therapies and treatments such as CPAP machines, oral appliances, and lip taping are a few of the more common strategies for remedying snoring and sleep apnea. These treatments work by providing continuous positive airway pressure, getting the jaw forward to a better alignment so the tongue is out of the airway space, and encouraging nasal breathing.
When to See a Sleep Apnea Specialist
Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that can have life-threatening implications. The absence of breathing in the middle of the night while you’re asleep and unaware of what’s going on is scary. If you notice that your snoring or your partner’s snoring is consistent regardless of what medicine they’re currently taking or their sleeping position, call Dr. Wallace’s office at (843) 410-0345 or visit our contact page.