Snoring may sound like a simple sleeping disorder, but you’ll be surprised at how many people snore. In the United States, nearly 100 million adults suffer from snoring. However, half of them have a serious sleeping disorder called obstructive sleep apnea or simply sleep apnea.
People often get confused with snoring and sleep apnea. You may even think that sleeping apnea is the same as snoring. But there are a lot of differences between the two, in the same way that there are similarities.
It’s likely that you know someone who snores. Whether it’s your dad back in the day or your partner now, the point is you have seen someone snore.
Snoring is the sleeping disorder characterized by a rattling noise when a person breathes during sleep. The noise comes from the soft palate and tissue in the mouth and nose, as well as the throat vibrating.
The loudness and frequency of the snore may vary. Some people may snore mildly while others are too loud that the noise they make can be heard in the next room. Others snore infrequently, while some may snore almost every minute.
In the United States, almost 100 million adults are known to snore. While it can affect people of all ages including children, it is more common in adults who are aged 40 to years old. Men are also more prone to this condition compared to women.
Sleep apnea, meanwhile, is a respiratory condition characterized by the throat narrowing or closing during sleep. It can repeatedly interrupt the breathing of an individual, resulting in a fall in the blood oxygen levels. This can cause the brain to wake up the person. What’s scary is that sleep apnea can happen hundreds of times a night without the individual even realizing it.
It is normal for people with sleep apnea to stop breathing completely for 10 seconds or more, and between 10 and 60 times in a night. There are also instances when a person with severe sleep apnea will have waking episodes.
Interestingly, snoring is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Other symptoms include morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, and irritability. In some cases, sufferers awaken with a sore throat or dry mouth.
If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase risks of diseases like stroke, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and blood pressure.
So what is the relationship of snoring and sleep apnea?
Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. And it’s not a simple case of snoring, as people who have sleep apnea are known to snore so loudly it can be heard in the next room.
Thus, people who snore loudly are likely suffering from sleep apnea, and theirs could not be just a simple case of snoring. However, not all people who snore have sleep apnea.
Both sleep apnea and snoring also have many similarities.
One is that both sleep apnea and snoring can affect the quality of sleep, resulting in daytime drowsiness and sleepiness. People who snore a lot often wake up tired and sleepy. That’s also the case in people with sleep apnea.
Daytime sleepiness can hamper their day-to-day activities like performance at work and even driving. Those who suffer from sleep apnea, in particular, will have troubles keeping themselves awake during the day. In fact, people who have sleep apnea are up to 12 times more likely to figure in a road accident compared to those without the said disorder.
Someone who snores often doesn’t know that he or she has snoring problems. It would often take another person to tell the snorer about it.
Just like snoring, a person who suffers from sleep apnea would not know that he has the said condition. After all, the respiratory disorder happens only during sleep much like snoring.
But you wonder—how would someone determine that he/she has sleep apnea, and not just a simple case of snoring?
A sleep specialist can help in determining if a person has sleep apnea. This can be done by a sleep study, or a home sleep test.
Thus in case your partner snores loudly, don’t dismiss it as a simple case of snoring. He or she could have sleep apnea which requires immediate medical attention.