Snoring is a sound that occurs during sleep when soft tissue in the upper airway vibrates as you breathe. Snoring is extremely common in both men and women, although many women frequently experience it during pregnancy and after menopause. Obesity, nasal obstruction, alcohol and smoking all increase the risk of snoring. Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and sleeping on your side also can help reduce snoring.
Most everyone knows of someone who snores, but loud and frequent snoring is a common sign of obstructive sleep apnea. It’s important to have a consultation with a health care provider to determine if there is more to your snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep breathing disorder that causes a person to stop breathing while they sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea affects nearly 30 million adults in the United States, which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for a few seconds to more than a minute.
OSA is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. Repeated pauses in breathing occur which often reduce your oxygen levels, leading to strain on the heart and an increase in blood pressure. Over time, this can lead to heart disease or a stroke. Other health problems associated with sleep apnea include diabetes, chronic acid reflux, erectile dysfunction, and in extreme cases death.
Common signs of sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in men, but it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway or misaligned jaw all increase the risk of sleep apnea.
The quality of your sleep has a dramatic impact on your health, well-being and overall quality of life. If you snore or have diagnosed sleep apnea, do not ignore these conditions and seek treatment.
If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems. These include:
Oral Appliances: Dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only during sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance prevents the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position. Oral appliances are quiet, portable and easy to care for.
CPAP: The most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. A CPAP machine keeps your airway open by forcing air through flexible tubing and requires you to wear a mask as you sleep. Although CPAP therapy is effective, some people are unable to adhere to it and should consider a sleep apnea appliance as an alternate treatment.
If you have snoring or diagnosed sleep apnea, please call our office to speak with Dr. Cohen about your treatment options. Learn more about snoring and sleep apnea on the Snoring Isn’t Sexy website.