Snoring while you sleep isn’t always a cause for concern. Habitual snoring is relatively common, occurring in about 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women.
While chronic snoring doesn’t always indicate a problem, you shouldn’t ignore the condition. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a disorder in which you temporarily stop breathing during sleep. Episodes cause you to awaken briefly to resume breathing.
While snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores has it. Sleep apnea specialist Louis Russell Jr., DDS, of the Russell Family Dentistry in Tomball, Texas, has the expertise necessary to diagnose and treat the cause of your snoring. If you have sleep apnea, Dr. Russell Jr. can help you resolve your condition, so you can achieve better sleep and protect your overall well-being.
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this disorder. It results when the muscles at the back of your throat relax so much that they don’t support the soft tissue around the sidewalls of your throat and mouth. The relaxed soft tissues partially block your airway and interrupt your breathing. With sleep apnea, the interruption lasts more than 10 seconds.
Obstructive sleep apnea can cause 5-30 or more episodes of interrupted breathing per hour, resulting in hundreds of sleep disruptions nightly. You resume breathing in each episode when you’re briefly awakened by the inability to breathe normally.
Central sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea occurs when your body stops breathing because your brain doesn’t send the right signals to your breathing muscles while you sleep. The condition can occur as a result of heart failure, brain tumors, stroke, and brain infections.
Complex sleep apnea
Complex sleep apnea is the rarest form of sleep apnea. It involves the combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
You may not realize you snore while you sleep until your spouse, family member, or roommate brings it to your attention. You typically don’t awaken with normal snoring, though the sounds of your snoring may keep others awake. Normal snoring may occur irregularly or during periods when you have a cold or congestion.
While normal snoring typically doesn’t affect your sleep quality, sleep apnea can leave you constantly feeling tired and experiencing morning headaches, even if you get a long night of sleep. Sleep apnea can also make you wake up in the middle of the night with a loud snort, gasping for air, or choking.
Snoring with sleep apnea is typically regular and loud, with frequent gasps for air, periods of breathlessness, and momentary pauses in breathing. With sleep apnea, episodes of snoring occur nightly.
Untreated sleep apnea can affect your physical and emotional well-being. It can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other cardiac problems. Since sleep apnea interferes with restful sleep, it can also cause irritability, mood changes, depression, and difficulty concentrating.
Anyone can get sleep apnea at any age. However, your risk of developing the condition is higher if you’re a man, middle-aged or older, or obese. Using alcohol, smoking, and using medications that produce a sedating effect can worsen sleep apnea.
Some people are predisposed to the condition. Having certain physical features that can run in families, such as a narrow throat, thick neck, and round head, can also increase your risk of having sleep apnea.
Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, Dr. Russell may recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, side sleeping, or smoking or alcohol cessation.
Many patients get relief from sleep apnea by using an oral appliance. Oral appliances, which resemble orthodontic retainers or mouthguards, are worn only during sleep.
The oral device pushes your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open during sleep. Your oral device is customized to fit your mouth based on 3-D images of your teeth and mouth.
Depending on your condition, you may require the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device to treat your sleep apnea. A CPAP device keeps your airway open with a small amount of positive pressure delivered via a hose and facemask through your nose and/or mouth while you sleep. Some patients may benefit from surgical intervention to correct a physical defect causing sleep apnea.
Don’t let sleep apnea endanger your health and interfere with your quality of life. Find out whether you’re experiencing sleep apnea and what you can do about it. Schedule a consultation online or over the phone with the Russell Family Dentistry today
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