Is it Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Are you like me?  I used to describe myself as a light sleeper. Though my wife had told me for years (not so happily) that I snored, and though I often woke up in the morning more tired than when I went to sleep, I never thought to attribute any of it to anything other than what I had told myself for years, “I’m a light sleeper – I just have a lot on my mind.” Little did I know that for years already I had been experiencing the telltale signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  It wasn’t until I came across an article about the symptoms and dangers associated with sleep apnea in a professional journal, that I recognized the possibility that there might be more to my snoring and sleepiness. Now that my OSA has been diagnosed and treated, I realize that I’ve dodged a bullet from the standpoint of my longterm health and my day to day wellbeing–not to mention my marriage!

Sleep experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients are undiagnosed and untreated. Many patients do not know they have a problem because they are unaware that they wake up throughout the night to breathe. Bed partners sometimes become concerned, because of the loud snoring, but sometimes, like in my case, when the snoring is more subdued, partners are bothered but don’t know to be concerned for their partner’s health.

What causes snoring? Snoring is caused by the vibrations of your soft and/or hard tissue palates; these vibrations occur because of increasingly narrow air passages. When air passes through these passages, a “flapping” sound occurs because the tissue is soft in nature.

Some snorers may have a more serious case of blocked air passages, known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In these cases, the blockage of air is so great that no air can get through, causing repeated awakenings throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea can contribute or lead to many other conditions, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and depression, so it is important to be diagnosed by a medical professional if you experience any sleep-related symptoms.

The only real way to know for sure if your snoring is a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, is a sleep test done at home or at a sleep center, which records what happens while you sleep. If you think you have sleep apnea, you need to get a sleep test and stay clear of anyone who agrees to treat you for your snoring or “suspected sleep apnea” without first getting a sleep test. Only after you know what you’re dealing with can you determine the best treatment option for you.

I’ve been there. I know getting to the bottom of your sleep issues can feel overwhelming, which is why I insist that our initial consultations are at no charge to our patients. I want to allay your worries and help you plot a course of action. We  discuss your sleep concerns, schedule a sleep test and help you assess if Oral Applaince Therapy, CPAP or some other treatment, is the best choice for you.  Not only is there no need for you to endure more sleepless nights, but it is vital to your health that you address the problem.  

Dr. Lon Kessler, Dental Sleep Medicine Center

About Dr. Lon Kessler, Dental Sleep Medicine Center