Source: CourierPost Online
If you snore regularly, you know it can impact your quality of sleep – as well as your relationship with your significant other. While these are two problems that come with snoring, many more can arise with an obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) diagnosis.
When you snore, it may be a result of minor upper airway obstruction, but with sleep apnea, there is significantly diminished airflow in the lungs.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but nearly everyone with sleep apnea snores. The main difference between the two is rooted in the amount of upper airway obstruction and limitation of air into the lungs.
Weight is often a risk factor for sleep apnea, as it can contribute to “crowding” in the back and sides of the throat – but weight alone cannot take the blame. Anatomical obstruction, from tonsils or the tongue – along with diminished muscle tone in the throat at night – play a significant role in both primary snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Primary snoring isn’t known for putting people at risk for serious health complications (unless you consider being jabbed in the ribs or whacked in the head with a pillow detrimental).
To treat sleep apnea, many doctors will suggest a CPAP machine, which keeps your airway open during sleep. It’s a great start, but not a reality for many patients who struggle with tolerating this treatment modality. With advances in disease knowledge, diagnostic techniques and innovative new treatments, there are many more options available now. It is essential to do your research on providers with the multi-disciplinary experience and expertise you need.
There are also bedtime habits and lifestyle changes that can help improve snoring, including:
· Losing weight.
· Adding an extra pillow under your head to stay propped up, and trying not to sleep on your back.
· Not drinking alcohol before bed (as this diminishes the muscle tone).
· Staying on top of your allergies. Take any necessary medication (or seek further treatment) and clean the environment you sleep in. Dust, mold, and pet dander are all common causes of congestion and obstruction.
By Dr. Colin Huntley, an Otolaryngologist-Head & Neck Surgeon, Sleep Specialist, and Assistant Professor at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. He can be reached at 856-922-5030.