A lot of people snore and most of the time snoring is harmless. However, there are some snorers who might have a very serious type of sleeping disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.
To fully understand the difference between sleep apnea and snoring, you must take a critical analysis of the anatomy of the upper airways. When you look at the anatomy of the airways, you will notice that the airway from the voice box (Larynx) to the lung is very rigid and hard to collapse.
Snoring occurs because the tissues of the upper airways are flopping, but apnea happens when the airways becomes floppy and collapse, thereby obstructing the airways.
Apnea can result in very frequent and loud snoring, but snoring does not necessary indicate apnea. There is no significant health risk of snoring, but sleep apnea is associated with health conditions like stroke and heart disease.
Sleep apnea can be very dangerous because when the airways is obstructed, the level of oxygen in the blood is reduced. Obviously, the human brain can’t function properly without oxygen, so the brain wakes up and struggles to restore muscle tone before damage is done.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE SLEEP APNEA
The signs that may indicate that you have sleep apnea include:
- Very loud and persistent snoring.
- The tendency to sleeping excessively during the day.
- Gasping for air during sleep and temporary pauses in breathing during sleep.
- Sleeping with the mouth open.
- Upon waking your mouth is dry and/or teeth are gummy.
- Waking up frequently during sleep with a great urge to urinate.
- Chronic restlessness and inability to fully concentrate.
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s important to visit a doctor to confirm your suspicions and get started on treatment.
WAYS TO TREAT SLEEP APNEA
The most common ways of treating sleep apnea are medications, breathing aids, devices and surgery. But some alternative methods and changes in lifestyle can also be of great help.
- MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WEIGHT: It is very advisable for people that have this condition to lose weight. Obesity can increase this risk of sleep apnea and airways obstruction when sleeping.
- CHANGING SLEEPING POSITION: Constantly changing your sleep position can improve sleep and reduce the risk of sleep apnea.
- STOP SMOKING AND ALCOHOL INTAKE: Lifestyle changes like stopping smoking and reducing the intake of alcohol can reduce the complications that can arise from sleep apnea.
- THE USE OF HUMIDIFIER: The use of humidifier reduces congestion and helps in clearer breathing because it can open the airways.
- INDULGING IN YOGA: Frequent exercise has the capacity to improve your energy and make your heart stronger. Yoga can make you breath better and improve the flow of oxygen to the brain.
If you suspect you have sleep disorder, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. After all, even if it just ends up being snoring, at least you know what it is and you can sleep sound knowing you don’t have a sleeping disorder.