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Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Loud snoring can be a signal that something is seriously wrong with your breathing during sleep. Snoring is a sign that air is not freely flowing through the throat passageway. The sound of snoring comes from efforts to force air through the narrowed passage. For most people, loud disruptive snoring is merely a social problem that may strain relationships. Yet for many adults, loud habitual snoring is the first indication of a potentially life threatening disorder-

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Apnea is the pausing of airflow for more than 10 seconds while an individual is sleeping.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Loud snoring, with episodes of pauses and gasps during which the snorer struggles unsuccessfully to breathe, is a prominent symptom of OSA. The muscles of the soft palate relax and sag, obstruct the airway and cause the vibration and rattling sounds of snoring. Snoring is usually present but not always OSA patients. Sleep apnea may be present in children who are overweight and those who have enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

People with sleep apnea don't get enough oxygen and their sleep is poor.

Sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness, chronic fatigue, morning headache, irritability, impaired memory and judgment, mood disturbance, and decreased libido. There is evidence that it can trigger hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Specialized Treatment

For those with disruptive snoring and mild sleep apnea, losing weight, avoiding alcohol and heavy meals within two hours of bedtime, avoiding sedative use, and sleeping on one's side are practical interventions that can improve or even cure snoring and sleep apnea. Sleep study or polysomnography is needed to access the degree of severity in patients symptoms of OSA

To treat severe sleep apnea, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) is a highly effective therapy. This is a light mask, worn over the nose during sleep, which forces air through the nose to keep the airway open. Some snoring and sleep apnea patients are helped by oral appliances that open the airway by bringing the jaw, tongue and soft palate forward.

Surgical intervention may be a viable alternative for particular patients. Surgery can be a permanent way to control this condition.