Whilst snoring can be an annoying and tiresome condition for both the snorer and their loved ones, it is not in itself particularly dangerous and certainly not life threatening. There is however another affliction, linked to snoring, which can have far more dangerous medical implications. This is sleep apnea, or apnoea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, otherwise known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleeping disorder that causes breathing to be interrupted during sleep.
During sleep, sufferers of OSA can stop breathing for up to 10 seconds when obstructions in their airways stop the flow of air into their lungs. When this happens, the lack of oxygen causes the person to wake from a deep sleep into a much lighter sleep or a fully awake state. This is often combined with a very loud snore or snort to clear the blockage.
There are 2 main types of breathing interruptions:
1) Apnea – when the muscles in the throat relax and collapse causing a total blockage of the airway
2) Hypoapnea – when there is a partial blockage of the airway reducing the amount of air borne in to the lungs by over 50%.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Due to the repeated cycle of waking from a deep sleep and lack of oxygen the most common symptoms of OSA are excessive tiredness during the day. Although this in itself is not life threatening, people that suffer from OSA can fall asleep suddenly during the day. Doing so when driving or operating machinery could very easily be life threatening.
Other symptoms of OSA include poor memory, anxiety, depression and headaches.
Recognizing or detecting OSA
Sleep apnea is very often un-recognized as people think that they are just generally over tired. The major signs of sleep apnoea are:
• A choking / loud snoring sounds when you sleep
• Pauses in breath when sleeping
• Excessive tiredness and fatigue during the day
• Falling sleep during the day
If you sleep in the same room as a loved one they may be able to help identify snoring as OSA.
There are several factors which increase the risk of snoring and OSA including:
• Being overweight / obesity
• Drinking alcohol
OSA cures and treatments
Although it may not be possible to cure sleep apnea entirely it may be possible to significantly reduce it and the effects it has. Treatments can include:
Lifestyle changes such as:
• Losing weight
• Cutting down on smoking and drinking
• Sleeping on your side or stomach
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines
CPAP machines are sleeping apparatus that assist your breathing while you sleep. A mask is placed over your nose and mouth and delivers a constant supply of compressed air that prevails your throat from closing. CPAP machines are the most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
For examples of CPAP machines please see Snoring Cures HQ .