Snoring versus sleep apnea

Annoyed woman covering her ears with pillows to block out snorinWhen it comes to snoring and sleep apnea, some people may struggle to figure out the difference between the two. Snoring is extremely common, and it affects 90 million Americans. It may occur nightly or intermittently.

So what causes it, and how is it different than obstructive sleep apnea?

Snoring occurs when the collapsible part of the airway — where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula — strike each other when breathing, creating a vibration. In this situation, the airway is partially closed.

Some of the most common causes of snoring include:

  • obstructed nasal passageways;
  • excessively bulky throat tissue; and
  • poor tongue and throat muscle tone.

Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is caused when the airway completely closes. The tongue falls against the soft palate, and the soft palate and uvula fall against the back of the throat, so when your chest rises to inhale, no air comes in. This can occur hundreds of times throughout one night, and each episode may last mere seconds to more than a minute. Sometimes those with this condition may snore; other times not. In either case, daytime drowsiness is a hallmark symptom.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition, because not only does it prevent you from getting adequate sleep, it can increase the likelihood that you will experience a host of other problems ranging from depression and headaches to increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and even stroke.

In Texas, dentists in addition to sleep physicians may treat patients for this disorder. The first step is to talk with us. If you are experiencing frequent snoring, we can order a sleep study, and depending on the results, fit you for a custom oral appliance designed to prop the airway open at night. Whether your snoring is simply that — snoring — or an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, we’ll help you get the answers you are looking for, to get the rest you need. Scheduling an appointment with DaVinci Dentistry is the first step. Call 817-251-8333.

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