Snoring isn’t anything to worry about, right? Wrong. Frequent, long snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, which is a common and potentially serious disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. To protect yourself and improve your health, it is important to understand the difference between snoring and sleep apnea.

The Connection is Important

Severe snoring can cause an array of problems, including sleep disturbances for the snorer and other household members as well as walking episodes.  Snoring does not always result in sleep apnea, but chronic snoring may indicate an underlying sleep disorder.  Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Car accidents due to sleepiness while driving

By understanding snoring, sleep apnea and the connection between the two conditions, you can continue to improve your health and rest.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder, which is a serious, and potentially life-threatening condition characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep.  There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Central Sleep Apnea– In this type of sleep apnea, the upper airway is open, but no oxygen is getting into the system.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This next type of sleep apnea is the most common. It occurs when the lungs and the diaphragm are functioning normally, but no oxygen is entering the system because there is an obstruction in the upper airway.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea – This last type of sleep apnea is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.

The signs and symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping or choking during the night, non-refreshed sleep, fragmented sleep, clouded memory, irritability, personality changes and morning headaches.

Does your partner snore? Do they frequently gasp for air while they sleep? If so, we encourage you to contact Dr. Bonnie Foster, our dentist in Warrenton, VA, to learn more about sleep apnea. With proper care and treatment planning, you or a loved one can get a better night’s sleep.