The American Sleep Association estimates that about half of the US adult population snores. This quirk of sleeping ranges from amusing through distracting to outright disturbance, and for as many as 10% of those snorers, it may signal a potentially life-threatening condition. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that could have a major impact on your health.
While the presence of snoring doesn’t guarantee you have OSA, it’s unlikely you’ll have OSA without snoring. When you need a specialist, contact Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat and Dr. Scott N. Bateman for an examination and evaluation of your condition. A customized treatment plan can help you avoid the negative impact OSA imparts on your health.
The causes behind snoring
Virtually everyone knows the range of sounds that snorers can make. Though there can be quite a variety of snoring “voices,” the fundamental cause of all these noises is the same. The flow of air as you breathe causes relaxed tissues in your throat to vibrate, and these vibrations in turn create what you know as snoring.
Certain conditions contribute to this tissue relaxation. Your body’s anatomy may be more restrictive than other people’s, increasing the velocity of air passing by the soft palate, which divides the mouth and nasal airways. If you have congestion due to a cold or allergies, there’s even more restriction in your breathing. Alcohol consumption is another contributing factor, as is carrying extra body weight. And men tend to snore more than women.
The position in which you sleep affects the severity of snoring, since gravity pulls the soft palate down when you’re sleeping on your back. Sleep disorders can aggravate each other too. If you’re sleep deprived for some other reason, it can cause even more throat relaxation.
When snoring progresses to OSA
The relaxation of the soft palate and throat tissue can be severe enough to block your breathing entirely. Your brain senses this and sends signals to your body to wake you up enough to change position and restart your breath. You’re likely not aware of these brief waking spells, even though you could have dozens every night.
You or your spouse may be able to recognize symptoms while you sleep that suggest you may have OSA. These include:
- Loudness: light snoring isn’t usually a problem, but loud, deep-pitched sounds could be an indicator of OSA
- Breathing stops: your snoring (and breathing) stops completely, usually followed by a snort or gasp as breathing begins again
- Snoring every night: when snoring happens each time you sleep, you may have OSA
There are also waking symptoms that might accompany OSA. Book a consultation with Dr. Bateman if you:
- Are sleepy during the day despite sleep of a reasonable length
- Wake up with a headache or a sore throat
- Notice an increase in blood pressure
- Have difficulty focusing or concentrating
Contact Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat if you suspect your snoring could include OSA. You can contact the office by phone at 307-672-0290, or arrange your appointment online using the link on this page.