How To Tell if Your Partner Has Sleep Apnea

Effects of Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Some people call it sawing logs, but snoring is a serious medical problem that affects people of all ages. Men are more apt to suffer from snoring than women. Obese individuals are more likely to suffer from snoring as well, but even children are known to snore. Snoring also tends to increase with age; forty-five percent of people snore occasionally, while twenty-five percent snore habitually.

Occasional snoring is usually more of an annoyance to your bed partner than anything serious. When it is a habitual problem, then the person who snores will wake up tired and exhausted. Sometimes, a doctor is needed to help discover the cause and sometimes you will have to participate in a sleep study to learn more about the specifics of your problem.

  1. Causes of Snoring Problems. There are different causes of snoring. Sometimes the walls of the throat vibrate, causing snoring; sometimes it's an obstruction to airflow. Airflow obstruction can be caused by several different factors:
    • Nasal airway obstructed. Sometimes muscles that are relaxed by sleep, alcohol or medications obstruct the airway.
    • Throat and tongue have poor muscle tone. Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed.
    • Bulky throat tissue. People who are overweight or children with adenoids or tonsils can suffer from bulky throat tissue that impedes airflow.
    • Uvula and the long soft palate. The long dangly piece of flesh in the back of the throat can sometimes narrow the opening.
  2. Risks Associated with Snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea often is associated with chronic snoring. Sleep apnea is a term used for long interruptions in sleep, characterized by breathing difficulties during sleep. The person with sleep apnea is rarely aware of his problems with sleep upon awakening. These are the characteristics of sleep apnea:
    • Long interruptions in breathing (10 seconds or more).
    • Frequent waking from sleep whether you realize it or not.
    • The lowering of blood oxygen levels, which causes your heart to work overtime, and raises blood pressure.
  3. Treatments Available for Sleep Apnea.
    • Lose weight and have a healthy lifestyle.
    • Avoid tranquilizers, antihistamines, and sleeping pills.
    • Establish a regular bedtime routine by going to bed at the same time every night.
    • Sleep on your side, rather than your back and tilt your head up 4 inches.

In conclusion, if none of the above applies, you may have to get the assistance of an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist). In children, removal of tonsils and adenoids may help. With adults a special nasal mask called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) that delivers air into your airway through a mask can help with snoring and breathing problems.


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