When Should You Be Concerned About Snoring?

Updated on November 29, 2019

Snoring is an issue pretty much everyone has to deal with directly or indirectly. In many cases, snoring is benign, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. This is what is often referred to as primary or simple snoring. But in other cases, it might be related to a condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Since snoring is not always caused by the same factors, it’s important to know the difference between primary snoring and sleep apnea if you want to correct the situation. Let’s take a look at what differentiates both conditions, and what can be done about it.

Do Your Homework

Unless you understand the mechanisms behind snoring, you won’t be able to find the proper treatment. Snoring is caused by the throat’s tissues relaxing during sleep and partially obstructing air pathways. This results in vibration, which is where the snoring sound comes from. 

While anybody can be a snorer, other factors such as body fat and alcohol consumption could have an effect on snoring. One of the first signs of someone suffering from apnea is loud and chronic snoring. Sleep apnea is when snoring is punctuated by breathing interruptions. These can be anywhere from a few seconds, to even more than a minute in extreme cases. Shallow breathing is also a sign of apnea. Factors that can affect the severity of the symptoms include obesity, large tonsils and tongue, aging, or the shape of the neck and head.

When it’s Time to Speak with a Doctor

If you or your partner chokes or gasps during sleep, snores loudly and frequently, or simply stops breathing at times, then you should talk to a doctor immediately. You should also consider having a sleep study conducted by a professional if they get restless during nighttime, or are feeling unusually tired during the day. The reason why you want to get tested first is that it’ll reduce the risk of misdiagnosis (whether it’s from you or a doctor), and improper treatment.

Get Treatment

Depending on the severity of the condition, your doctor might prescribe everything from lifestyle changes, like reducing your calorie and alcohol consumption, to nasal strips, chirurgical intervention, or oral devices. One solution that is absolutely worth trying is mouth strips. 

Mouth strips allow you to avoid mouth breathing during sleep, and force you to breathe through the nose. These can have a significant impact on breathing and reduce apnea symptoms. So, make sure that you bring them up with your doctor when discussing treatment options.

Obstructive sleep apnea is also commonly treated using a breathing mask, so make sure that the mouth strips you choose are CPAP compliant and will be compatible with most breathing machines. There are also other options that don’t require the use of a CPAP machine, so make sure that you discuss these with a qualified sleep health provider.

Don’t Overlook the Health Risks

Don’t dismiss snoring as just a natural consequence of aging. While it is true that you are more likely to snore as you age, this is something that can and should be treated. Also, be mindful of the real health risks related to sleep apnea. 

For one, shortness or absence of breath can disrupt your sleep, leading to fatigue. OSA also triggers the release of stress hormones, which can wreak havoc on your body. But it can also lead to severe conditions such as congestive heart failure, strokes, and more. So, make sure that you are well aware of the consequences and take action.

Sleep apnea is not something that you should be taken lightly. So, if you think that you, or someone you love, is afflicted by the condition, make sure that you start looking at treatment options and speak with a professional immediately.

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