Snoring isn’t sexy, but it may also be an indication of a more serious medical problem called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Typically, someone with obstructive sleep apnea will snore heavily, and then stop breathing. There is effort to breathe, but air is unable to get through due to an obstruction of the airway stemming from a collapse of muscles and tissues near the throat. The person will then gasp and partially awaken in order to breathe.
The resulting repeated lack of oxygen to the brain puts extra strain on the heart, increasing blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, and other health problems.
1 in 5 adults has at least mild OSA.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone regardless of age or weight, although it does occur more often in men who are overweight and over 40. Risk also increases in direct relation to alcohol consumption and smoking. Often the person with sleep apnea is totally unaware of the problem and may deny the fact that he/she even snores.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Shirt collar size is one of eight signs of sleep apnea. If you have a neck size of 16 inches or more as a woman, and 17 inches as a man, you have a higher risk of having sleep apnea. Always feeling tired is another key symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. By determining your level of daytime sleepiness, sleep physicians and dentists can gain insight into how severe your sleep deprivation is. Take a quiz to see how many obstructive sleep apnea indicators you have.
Sleep Apnea Health Consequences
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with many life threatening diseases. People with untreated sleep apnea are 3 times more likely to have heart disease than those not afflicted. They also face risk of stroke 4 times greater than non-sufferers.
It is estimated that over 40,000 people in America die each year from complications of sleep apnea (cardiovascular problems in some way connected to sleep apnea. That is over 100 deaths every single day, just in the United States alone.
Taking a Sleep Study
When there is a suspicion of a sleep disorder, your physician will recommend taking a sleep study. A sleep study measures how much and how well you sleep, and is required in order to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
A polysomnogram (PSG) is an in-lab sleep study performed overnight in a sleep center.
A home sleep test (HST) is a portable sleep study performed in the comfort of your home.
Your sleep study results will include all kinds of information about how you sleep, including whether you have obstructive sleep apnea and how severe it is if you do. Obstructive sleep apnea is classified as mild, moderate or severe based on the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI).
Neither snoring nor sleep apnea should be taken lightly as your health is at stake. If you believe that you or your loved one may have sleep apnea, contact your physician or sleep apnea dentist today!