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

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While sleep apnea and snoring may appear to be the same thing, they are not. Our North York dentists discuss the distinctions and why they matter.

Many people who suffer from sleep apnea are usually unaware of their condition and believe they are simply snoring. This is a common error to make, as snoring is a primary symptom of sleep apnea. Additionally, snoring and sleep apnea can be associated with other health problems and both can cause sleep disruption.

However, there are some important differences between the two.

What is snoring?

Snoring is essentially vibrations in the respiratory structures that occur during sleep when airflow is obstructed. Snoring can be caused by several factors, including an elongated soft palate, the uvula, a large tongue, or nasal obstructions.

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

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that is characterized by periodic pauses in breathing during sleep. Apneas (breathing pauses) can occur as a result of a physical obstruction to airflow, a deficiency of respiratory effort, or a combination of the two. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (caused by a blockage).

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 are fatigued during the day and notice a decline in your work performance, general vigilance, and ability to stay motivated, this could be a sign that you are experiencing sleep disruptions caused by 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 a bother. It carries significant health risks. When a person's breathing pauses, they fall out of deep sleep, resulting in poor quality sleep. Additionally, it can stimulate the release of stress hormones, alter the way your body uses energy, and cause you to feel tired and sleepy throughout the day. Additionally, there are several potential negative health consequences of insufficient sleep, including weight gain, memory loss, and premature skin ageing.

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.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, we can help. Book a consultation with our dentists at North Park Dental Care today and we may be able to refer you to specialist.

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