Normal Snoring Vs. Sleep Apnea: How To Tell The Difference

Normal Snoring Vs Sleep Apnea How To Tell The Difference| HealthSoul

Everyone has snored at least once in their lives. It could be due to having one too many drinks at your locals, or you’re probably fighting a cold. While occasional snoring is harmless, if it becomes persistent, it may begin to cause a myriad of problems. For instance, snoring could lead to sleepless nights for both you and your partner. In extreme conditions, snoring could strain your relationship and lead to divorce. Other than that, not all snoring is normal. Sometimes, it could indicate a serious health problem called sleep apnea.

Snoring and sleep apnea have uncanny similarities. One of the signs of sleep apnea is snoring. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. It’s, therefore, vital that you first understand the difference between the two so you’ll know when it’s necessary to call the help of the best sleep apnea doctor in Houston or your area. Here’s how to tell the difference between snoring and sleep apnea:

What Is Snoring?

Sometimes, tissues and muscles in the throat relax. One such tissue is the uvula, a fleshy extension hanging at the back of the throat. When breathing, air flows through these relaxed muscles, causing a vibration that produces a hoarse obnoxious sound called snoring.

Some of the causes of snoring include

  • Allergies
  • Alcohol
  • Airway obstructions
  • A larger than normal uvula
  • A cold
  • A deviated septum
  • Large tonsils
  • Obesity
  • Older age that comes with more relaxed throat muscles and tissue
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Drinking alcohol, substances, or other relaxants close to bedtime

Another cause of snoring is sleep apnea. So, what’s sleep apnea?

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSP) is when a person frequently stops breathing for a few seconds lasting to minutes in their sleep. Due to these pauses in breathing, the snoring starts and stops, accompanied by gasping, snorting, or choking. These choking episodes may cause interruptions while sleeping, a light sleep, or an unrestful sleep, resulting in fatigue and drowsiness during the day.

According to Sleep Apnea Information for Clinicians, about 22 million people in the county suffer from sleep apnea. They further state that 80% of the 22 million are undiagnosed. Unlike snoring, sleep apnea is a serious health problem which if left untreated, can lead to a litany of health complications like depression, headaches, and anxiety due to fatigue. Therefore, if you suspect your snoring has more to it, it may be time to consult the best sleep apnea doctor in Houston.

Difference Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Here’s what you should look for if you suspect there’s more to your snoring and you’re already struggling from sleep apnea:

  • Snoring Is Continuous

First, regular snoring is a continuous hoarse sound resulting from air flowing through relaxed throat muscles. Sleep apnea snoring, on the other hand, is not continuous. It’s characterized by regular pauses that may last seconds or minutes.

  • Chocking, Gasping and Snorting Episodes

One of the easiest ways to tell snoring from sleep apneas is by looking out for choking episodes. If you’re experiencing interrupted sleep, where you chock, gasp for air, or snort, it may be a symptom of sleep apnea. The choking and gasping happen when you’re trying to get some air after a period of paused breathing.

  • Interrupted Sleep

When snoring, your sleep may not necessarily be interrupted. However, stopped breathing leads to interrupted sleep, light sleeping, or unrest while sleeping for sleep apnea. The impact of unrestful sleep brings to light the next difference between snoring and sleep apnea.

  • Fatigue and Exhaustion

While snoring may keep your partner up at night, it rarely causes you to lose sleep. As such, snoring doesn’t affect the quality of your day when you wake up. That isn’t the case for sleep apnea. It’s common for someone suffering from sleep apneas to experience sleepiness during the day since their sleep is unrestful at night. These people tend to have fatigue, exhaustion, and mood swings resulting from poor sleep quality.

If not treated in time, the mood swings due to sleep apnea may result in advanced effects like depressive episodes and unproductiveness at work.

  • Related Complications

As aforementioned, unlike snoring, sleep apnea is a serious health condition. Therefore, while snoring ends in your bedroom, perhaps with one or two conflicts from your sleep-deprived partner, sleep apnea may lead to several health complications, including:

  1. Poor sleep quality– The impact of interrupted sleep extends more than just daytime fatigue and drowsiness. Over time, lack of proper sleep leads to fastened aging, memory loss, weight gain, and extreme behavior changes such as aggression and anger.
  2. Decreased and increased oxygen levels– This is one of the most severe impacts of sleep apnea. Due to the breathing pauses, the body experiences a cycle of high oxygen levels while breathing and low oxygen levels when the breathing is paused. The fluctuation in oxygen levels may cause the thickening of blood vessels due to a build-up of plaque. This condition is known as atherosclerosis.
    When your blood vessels thicken, you’re exposed to complications like heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and damage to the pancreas.

If You Suspect You Have Sleep Apnea

Although snoring and sleep apnea result in a loud, irritating hoarse voice coming from your throat, it’s very clear that the two are different. While one is normal, the other could indicate the need to see a sleeping consultant. Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition. Therefore, if you suspect you could be suffering from it after reading this article, it’s recommended you seek medical advice as soon as possible. All the best!