Snoring & Sleep Apnea are common Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) problems that can affect your sleep, health & quality of life. Snoring and sleep apnea often occur together. Your airway may:
• Narrow, limiting airflow as you breathe
• Vibrate, commonly heard as snoring
• Collapse, so you stop breathing
This third type of change is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is the most common type of SDB and may last for 10 seconds or longer.
Causes and risk factors of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
• Obesity (the heavier a person gets, the greater the risk of OSA)
• Family history of OSA or snoring
• Small upper airway(large tongue, large uvula, recessed chin, excess tissue in the throat and/or soft palate)
• Shape of head and neck – may create a smaller than normal airway
• Large tonsils or adenoids or other anatomical differences.(difficulties breathing during sleep can be created by a conditions such as deviated septum, enlarged tongue or receding chin)
• Throat muscles and tongue relax more than normal during sleep.(may sometimes be due to alcohol or sedative use before bedtime)
• Snoring – can cause the soft palate to lengthen, which in turn can obstruct the airway.
• Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
• Nasal congestion, nasal blockages, and nasal irritants
• Family history of sleep apnea
no specific genetic marker for sleep apnea has been discovered, but obstructive sleep apnea seems to run in families. This may be a result of anatomic abnormalities that run in the family.
• Other medical disorders or syndromes
such as hypothyroidism, acromegaly, amyloidosis, vocal cord paralysis, post-polio syndrome, neuromuscular disorders, Marfan’s syndrome, Down’s Syndrome
• Other conditions
such as immune system abnormalities, severe heartburn or acid reflux, high blood pressure. It isn’t clear whether these conditions are the cause or the result of OSA.
• Do you sleep poorly?
• Do you wake feeling tired?
• Are you sleepy during the day?
• Do you snore?
• Do you wake with headaches?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may be affected. Visit your Doctor for further advice on diagnosis and treatment.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
• The most common type of sleep apnea
• Present in up to 5% adults
• Occurs when your upper airway closes but your efforts to breathe continue
• Is more common in those older than 50 years
• Is more common in men than women
2. Central sleep apnea (CSA)
• Is uncommon. (only 5-10% of sleep apnea population)
• Occurs when your breathing stops but your airway stays open
• This stopping of breathing results from the body’s failure to breathe automatically. It is a central nervous system disorder
• Can be caused by disease or injury involving the brainstem, such as a stroke, a brain tumor, a viral brain infection, or a chronic respiratory disease
• People with CSA seldom snore, which makes it even harder to diagnose as they do not fit the “normal” profile of a sleep apnea sufferer
3. Mixed sleep apnea
• Is even less common
• A mixture of both OSA and CSA
• A person with mixed sleep apnea will often snore, but finds that treatments which only help obstructions in the airways do not completely stop apnea episodes
• Treatment usually includes a combination of the treatments used for OSA and CSA
Research shows that snoring and sleep apnea are associated with many serious conditions. Left untreated, your sleep apnea can be a contributing risk factor to:
• High blood pressure:
More than 35% of people with sleep apnea suffer from high blood pressure, increasing their risk of heart disease1
More than 80% of people who continue to suffer from high blood pressure despite taking three or more drugs, also have sleep apnea2
• Stroke – Almost 70% of people who have had a stroke have sleep apnea3
• Traffic Accidents – A person with sleep apnea is 7 times more likely to have a car accident4
• Type 2 diabetes
1 Worsnop et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1998
2 Logan et al. J. Hypertension. 2001
3 Bassetti et al. Sleep. 1999
4 Young T, Blustein J, et al. Sleep. 1997