There are more than 89 types of sleep breathing disorders, and they can range from mild snoring to more serious obstructive sleep apnea, which is also called OSA. Todd Fincher, DDS, and his team have been trained in dental sleep medicine and can help you determine if you suffer from snoring, sleep apnea, or one of many types of sleep disorders. To learn more about screening for sleep breathing disorders, click here.
Snoring is the sound produced when the soft tissues and muscles in your mouth and throat—such as your soft palate and uvula—relax, causing your airway to narrow and become smaller. When it becomes small enough, the soft tissues begin to vibrate as you inhale and exhale during sleep, similar to how reed instruments make music.
Snoring is very common. About 45% of adult men and women snore, and about 6% of children snore on a regular basis. Severe snoring is more common in men, as well as in people who are overweight.
The most common sign and symptom of snoring is the sound, and a partner hearing your snoring. Some people snore so loudly that the snoring can be heard through walls and even in neighboring buildings.
Other common signs and symptoms of snoring include waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth, as well as struggling to stay awake during the day, feeling irritable, or not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep.
Snorers have three times more motor vehicle accidents than people who don’t snore, and snoring can also be dangerous to your health and the health and safety of your loved ones.
Snorers can cause their partners to lose an average of one hour of sleep every night, and repeated disrupted sleep cycles can cause impaired reaction times and poor motor skills.
Snoring is also the most common symptom of sleep apnea, a more serious sleep breathing disorder.
Sleep apnea is an intermittent pause in breathing that interrupts normal sleep patterns. This interruption in breathing is caused when the tongue and soft tissues in the mouth and throat close off the airway and stop air from entering your lungs. People with this sleep breathing disorder fall into a deep sleep for a short time, after which their breathing is interrupted for anywhere from 10 seconds and up to 2 minutes. When this occurs, oxygen in the blood decreases, your heart races, and your brain and body go into panic mode, which causes you to partially wake up and gasp or snort for air. Once you’re relaxed, the cycle begins again and repeats itself all night.
More than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea. However, it is often undetected or misdiagnosed. In fact, only about 16% of the people who have sleep apnea receive treatment.
The two most commons and symptoms of sleep apnea are gasping for air or snorting during sleep, and/or loud snoring. Additionally, you wake up feeling tired and continue to feel drowsy throughout the day.
Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include waking with a sore throat or dry mouth; memory issues and difficulty concentrating; and headaches in the morning.
Sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression. In addition, if left untreated, people with sleep apnea are 4 times more likely to have a stroke, and 3 times more likely to develop heart disease. Sleep apnea is also associated with a higher incidence of on-the-job accidents and injuries, as well as car accidents.