Why Snoring is Not Normal
Almost half of all people snore at least occasionally. One out of four people is a habitual snorer. Snoring can be irritating or frustrating for sleeping partners, but it can also affect the wellbeing of the snorer. Although not all snoring is pathological, it can be a sign of more serious problems. Dr. Radfar can help you get to the bottom of your snoring and address the underlying cause.
What Snoring Is
Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. When you sleep, your muscles relax. The muscles around your airway relax, too, which causes the airway to narrow compared to its daytime size. Snoring occurs when the air passes through these narrowed airways and causes the soft palate and uvula to vibrate. The volume and extent of the snoring can vary based on how much the airways are constricted.
Occasional snoring can be associated with allergies, sinusitis, a cold, or enlarged tonsils. The swelling in the airways associated with these issues can cause them to be more constricted than usual, leading to louder nighttime breathing. Alcohol use, sleeping pills, and antihistamines can cause the muscles in the airway to relax more than usual, also leading to excessive narrowing of the airways and increased snoring.
Habitual snoring can be more problematic and may be a symptom of sleep apnea.
What Sleep Apnea Is
As many as one in three men and one in five women who snore habitually are believed to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. Sleep apnea occurs when the airways become partially or completely obstructed during sleep. The snoring may be punctuated by pauses in breathing followed by gasps or choking sounds as the breathing begins again. OSA is a serious sleep disorder that can significantly increase your risk of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Symptoms of sleep apnea are not always immediately noticeable, or you may dismiss them as something else. Along with chronic snoring or snoring punctuated by pauses in breathing, you may have excessive daytime sleepiness, feel unrefreshed upon waking, fall asleep at inappropriate times during the day, and experience changes in mentality, such as irritability, moodiness, depression, or anxiety. Other symptoms can include waking with a headache, sore throat, or dry mouth.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, your first step needs to be to get a diagnosis. Dr. Radfar can perform a complete physical examination. He may recommend a sleep test, which will monitor your vital signs while you sleep to determine how often you stop breathing. Treatment can include a sleep apnea mouthpiece or other devices to maintain proper airflow. Call us today to find out more or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Radfar, our sleep dentist.