Since so many people with obstructive sleep apnea also snore, it is listed as one of the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSA). Studies of both men and women show that between 30 percent and 50 percent of Americans snore. With US population estimates for 2010 at about 310 million, and only 12 million estimated to have OSA, your partner’s snoring does not necessarily mean sleep apnea.
Known Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome
While snoring and other symptoms are associated with OSA for only 4 percent of the US population, they should not be easily dismissed. OSA is known to be a life threatening disorder that can cause hypertension, stroke, cardiac arrest, brain damage from chronically low oxygen levels, and even diabetes. If, along with snoring, you have any of the following symptoms, ask your doctor or dentist if you might have OSA.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness or daytime fatigue
- Habitual snoring
- Over 40 years of age
- Alcohol use before sleep
- Sedative use at night
- Periods of apnea (no breathing) during sleep
During sleep, the muscles of the jaw and throat relax sufficiently to allow the tongue to fall back and/or the throat muscles to completely close off the airway. Attempts to pull air into the lungs are insufficient to overcome the blockage. Eventually, a very strong inhalation causes a snorting sound as air is forced through the blocked airway. Air vibrating through closed or nearly closed throat tissue vibrates audibly as snoring.
The difference between snoring and obstructive apnea is the difference between regular airflow to the lungs with every breath and airflow periodically being blocked from the lungs.
If you suffer from disruptive snoring or sleep apnea, Northern Virginia’s neuromuscular dentists at Galleria Dental Aesthetics can help. Please contact us for a personalized consultation at our Alexandria or Tysons Corner clinic and information about treatment for sleep apnea.