Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are separate but sometimes associated disorders that result from upper airway obstruction. Snoring results from multiple factors that may include nasal airway obstruction, obesity, mouth breathing, enlargement of the adenoid, tonsils, and base of the tongue, and vibration of structures such as the uvula and soft palate.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), or cessation of breathing during sleep, may result from the same factors, but is a more serious health condition. Medical studies have shown that OSA increases overall mortality rates. OSA interrupts the normal pattern of sleep which causes tiredness and immediately increases the risk of having an accident while driving or operating machinery. Additionally, OSA (over time) places stress on the body created by low oxygen levels, and magnifies the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Signs of OSA include daytime fatigue, morning headache, and not feeling rested even after an adequate time period of sleep. An overnight sleep study (polysomnogram) helps to distinguish between the two conditions. During a sleep study, measurements are taken of your heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen levels, brain waves, muscle movements and breathing patterns.
Medical (non invasive) treatments
Medical treatments that may alleviate snoring and OSA include losing weight, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, sedatives and heavy meals near bedtime, and changing your sleeping position as you tend to snore more when sleeping on your back than when sleeping on your side. Additional medical treatments for OSA include oral dental appliances and CPAP. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is delivered by a machine that uses air pressure to prevent the tissues in your throat from collapsing while you sleep. The air is blown through a mask fitted over your nose (and sometimes your mouth) that is worn while sleeping. CPAP needs to be worn all night, every night, in order to be effective, or else the symptoms and harmful medical effects of OSA will return immediately. If used properly, CPAP resolves OSA in nearly 100% of patients.