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What's the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

What's the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Though sleep apnea and snoring have some overlapping symptoms, they are very different in some important ways. Today, our Fort St. John dentists define sleep apnea and explain some key differences between sleep apnea and snoring.

Our natural sleep patterns can be disrupted by both snoring and sleep apnea, leaving people to fight the effects of poor sleep quality. But not all snoring is caused by sleep apnea, and not everyone suffering from sleep apnea will snore.

What is snoring?

The sound we recognize as snoring happens when airflow is obstructed, causing the respiratory structures to vibrate. One of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is snoring.

However, we should keep in mind that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. An elongated soft palate, a naturally large tongue or nasal obstructions may also lead to snoring.

What is sleep apnea?

This serious sleep disorder is marked by abnormal pauses in breathing or shallow breathing while a patient sleeps. Many sleep apnea sufferers are unaware they suffer from the condition until loved ones who sleep beside them let them know, Sleep partners of people with sleep apnea commonly lose sleep due to the sufferer’s symptoms — another reason why diagnosis and treatment is essential. 

There are 3 different types of sleep apnea. Each is defined by the cause of the abnormal breathing.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) happens due to a physical blockage of airflow.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is caused by a lack of respiratory effort.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA) occurs due to a combination of both an obstruction and lack of respiratory effort.

What are the most common signs of sleep apnea?

Typically, sleep apnea sufferers will display one or more of these symptoms:

  • High blood pressure
  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping when attempting to sleep
  • Choking while attempting to sleep
  • Night sweats
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking frequently during the night
  • Dry mouth when waking

Due to poor quality of sleep, many people who suffer from sleep apnea will feel sleepy and fatigued during their waking hours. Overwhelming fatigue caused by sleep apnea can have an extremely negative impact on quality of life every day for sufferers.

Reduced general alertness, work performance and overall motivation can be blamed on this sleep disorder, which results in poor quality of sleep.

Wondering how you can improve your oral health? Our dentists at Fort St. John Dental can provide personalized advice. Contact us today to book a consultation.

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