Sleep apnea and snoring may seem similar, but they are two completely different issues. Here, our Calgary dentists explain the differences, and why they're important.
Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware of it, and think they’re just snoring. This is an easy mistake to make, because snoring is one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea. In addition, both snoring and sleep apnea can be related to other health problems, and both can disrupt sleep.
However, there are some important differences between the two.
What is snoring?
Snoring is essentially vibrations in the respiratory structures that happen when air movement is obstructed during sleep. Snoring can be caused by an elongated soft palate, the uvula, a large tongue, or nasal obstructions, among other things.
Although snoring is a symptoms of sleep apnea, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. And of course, many people who snore don't have sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal breathing pauses during sleep. These breathing pauses (called apneas) can occur because of a physical blockage to air flow, a lack of respiratory effort, or combination of the two. Obstructive sleep apnea (caused by a blockage) is the most common form.
How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?
People who suffer from sleep apnea are often first made aware of it by their sleep partners, who notice the pauses in 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.
The only sure-fire way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to be assessed by a professional. A qualified medical professional can positively diagnose you, and get you the help you need.