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The Connection Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring and Sleep ApneaDid you know that about half of adults between 40 and 60 years old snore? If you're married, that means at least one of you is probably keeping the other up most nights! Snoring is caused by a partial obstruction of your airway when you're sleeping. This causes the soft tissues of the palate (the roof of the mouth) to tremble or vibrate, creating the sound we call snoring. In many cases, sleep apnea is first diagnosed when a spouse insists on an individual seeing a doctor because the snoring is so loud it is keeping both partners awake.

Snoring becomes a problem when it causes obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where the airway is periodically fully blocked. It's estimated that 20 million people in North America may suffer from sleep apnea snoring, which can pose a serious health risk, leading to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and in some cases heart attacks or strokes.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is characterized by periodic interruptions of your breathing while you're asleep, and usually last only seconds. There are different types and causes of sleep apnea. Understanding these can help you and your dentist or doctor choose an appropriate treatment option. Here we will be discussing Obstructive Sleep Apnea and sleep apnea snoring. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea, oxygen can't get through because of an obstruction in the airway.

The symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include excessive or loud snoring. sleepiness or exhaustion, choking during the night, irritability, frequent waking during the night, decreased sex drive, moodiness and feeling like you haven't had a good night's sleep. The chances of having OSA increase with age, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and the use of sleeping pills.

Obstructive sleep apnea doesn't just affect adults. Children who have allergies can also develop OSA when their airway is blocked because of swollen tonsils, adenoids, or nasal passages. Look for tell-tale signs in children such as "allergic shiners," which look like black eyes, an upturned nose, excessive nasal drainage or a husky or nasal voice. Irritability, tiredness during the day and bed wetting are also signs.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea Snoring

There are a variety of accepted solutions for sleep apnea snoring, including oral appliances, continuous positive air pressure, or removing either the uvula (that dangly thing at the back of the throat that looks like a punching bag) or excess palate tissue. The treatment depends on which form of apnea you have and how severe the condition is.

Obstructive sleep apnea and sleep apnea snoring are serious medical conditions and must be diagnosed by a medical doctor or sleep specialist, sometimes called a pulmonologist. Dentists are key to treating patients with snoring and sleep apnea, as they can provide oral appliances that minimize or eliminate sleep apnea snoring. Some medical doctors still treat sleep apnea snoring with invasive procedures because they aren't aware of the effectiveness of oral appliances as a treatment option.

If you have concerns about sleep apnea snoring, take the time to talk to both your doctor and dentist to make sure you have all the information you need on various treatment options for sleep apnea snoring.

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