Do I have sleep apnea, or am I just snoring?

While you may expect sleep apnea and snoring to always go hand in hand, this is not quite the case. Here, our Lethbridge dentists talk about the connection between snoring and sleep apnea and how to tell if you are experiencing the symptoms of a sleep disorder.

While you may be aware that you snore at night you may actually suffer from sleep apnea and not even realize it. You may not realize this because snoring is actually one of the common symptoms of sleep apnea. In addition, both snoring and sleep apnea can be related to other health problems, and both can disrupt sleep.

There is not always a connection though as these are two separate conditions. Here is more information on each subject and the correlation between the two:

Am I snoring while I sleep?

When air passes through your respiratory structures while you sleep it can cause the sound that we all know to be snoring. Snoring can be caused by an elongated soft palate, the uvula, a large tongue, or nasal obstructions, among other things.

Although snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. That being said, many people who snore do not have sleep apnea either.

Sleep Disorders: What is sleep apnea?

The term sleep apnea comes from the pauses in their breathing that a patient will experience while they are sleeping. These breathing pauses (called apneas) can occur because of a physical blockage to airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or a combination of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea (caused by a blockage) is the most common form.

What are the typical signs of sleep apnea?

Typically a patient only considers the possibility that they have sleep apnea after they have been woken up by someone while experiencing a pause in their breathing.

If you feel fatigued during the day, and notice that your work performance, general vigilance, and ability to stay motivated have gone downhill, it may be a sign that you are experiencing sleep disruptions due to sleep apnea.

A medical professional is the only person that can provide you with an accurate diagnosis. A qualified medical professional can positively diagnose you, and get you the help you need.

Are there any treatment options for sleep apnea?

While you may think that the tiredness that comes along with sleep apnea is a pain, you actually have more to worry about than just that. Those who suffer from this condition fall out of deep sleep when their breathing pauses, resulting in poor-quality sleep. It can also trigger the release of stress hormones, change how your body uses energy, and make you feel tired and sleepy during the day. In addition, there are several potential negative health effects of inadequate sleep, such as weight gain, memory loss, skin aging, and more.

Sleep apnea may also lead to a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, certain cancers, and even sudden death.

Once you've been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists may be able to provide you with a number of treatment options to help you manage your symptoms and get better sleep.

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and would like to discuss treatment options, request a consultation with our dentists at Hall Dental Centre today.

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