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Do I have sleep apnea, or am I just snoring?

While snoring and sleep apnea might seem similar, they are two completely different issues. Today, our West Toronto dentists explain the differences between them and why they are important.

Many people who think they're just snoring are unaware that they actually have sleep apnea. This is an easy mistake to make because one of sleep apnea's primary symptoms is snoring. Also, both snoring and sleep apnea can be related to other health problems, and both can disrupt sleep. 

That said, there are some important differences between the two.

What is snoring?

Essentially, snoring is the vibrations in the respiratory structures that occur when the movement of air is blocked during sleep. Snoring may be caused by an elongated soft palate, nasal obstructions, a large tongue, or the uvula, among other things. 

While snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. And, many people who snore don't have sleep apnea. 

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that's marked by abnormal breathing pauses while a person sleeps. These breathing pauses (referred to as apneas) can happen due to physical blockage of airflow, a lack of respiratory effort, or a combination of both. Obstructive sleep apnea (caused by a blockage) is the most common type. 

How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?

People who suffer from sleep apnea are often first made aware of it by their partners, who notice the pauses in breathing.

If you feel fatigued during the day, and notice that your work performance, general vigilance, and ability to stay motivated have gone downhill, it may be a sign that you are experiencing sleep disruptions due to sleep apnea.

The only sure-fire way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to be assessed by a professional. A qualified medical professional can positively diagnose you, and get you the help you need.

Do I need treatment for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance. It carries serious health concerns with it. Those who suffer from this condition fall out of deep sleep when their breathing pauses, resulting in poor quality sleep. It can also trigger the release of stress hormones, change how your body uses energy, and make you feel tired and sleepy during the day. In addition, there are several potential negative health effects of inadequate sleep, such as weight gain, memory loss, skin aging, and more.

Sleep apnea may also lead to a greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, certain cancers, and even sudden death.

Once you've been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you achieve a better night’s sleep with a variety of treatment options.

Do you have questions about sleep apnea and your options? Our dentists at Royal York Dentistry may be able to address your inquiries. Contact us today.

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