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

Sleep apnea and snoring may seem similar, but they are two completely different issues. Here, our dentists at Toothworks Richmond-Adelaide Dental explain the differences, and why they're important.

Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware of it and think they’re just snoring. This is an easy mistake to make because snoring is one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea. In addition, both snoring and sleep apnea can be related to other health problems, and both can disrupt sleep.

However, there are some important differences between the two.

What is snoring?

Snoring is essentially vibrations in the respiratory structures that occur when air movement during sleep 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 sleep disorder characterized by irregular breathing and pauses during sleep. These pauses in breathing (called apneas) can be caused by a physical obstruction to airflow, a lack 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 feel fatigued during the day, and notice that your work performance, general vigilance, and ability to stay motivated have gone downhill, it may be a sign that you are experiencing sleep disruptions due to 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 just an inconvenience. It is associated with serious health risks. Those suffering from this condition are jolted out of deep sleep when their breathing stops, resulting in poor sleep quality. It can also cause the release of stress hormones, alter the way your body uses energy, and cause you to feel tired and sleepy during the day. Furthermore, there are several potential negative health effects of insufficient sleep, including weight gain, memory loss, skin aging, and others.

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.

Once you've been diagnosed by a medical professional, your dentists can help you achieve a better night’s sleep with a variety of treatment options.

If you think you may have sleep apnea, we can help. Book a consultation with our dentists at Toothworks Richmond-Adelaide Dental today. Or find a Toothworks location near you.

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