The Difference Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

The Difference Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Although snoring is one of the most common sleep apnea signs, loud snoring doesn't necessarily mean you have the condition. Your Long Beach, CA, ear, nose, and throat doctors, Dr. Jesse Tan, Dr. Jesus Tan, and Dr. Rose Eapen of Tan Head and Neck Center can determine what's causing your snoring.

What happens when you snore?

Every part of your body relaxes when you sleep, including muscles and tissues in your tongue, throat, and roof of your mouth. When air flows through your nose, mouth, and throat, the relaxed tissues vibrate, producing the noise you associate with snoring.

Nearly everyone snores at least occasionally. A cold, illness, or congestion due to allergies can set off a bout of snoring. You may also be more likely to snore due to chronic sinusitis, polyps in your nose, a deviated septum, or swollen turbinates. (Turbinates are structures in your nose that control airflow and filter air.)

Other snoring risk factors can include:

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Have a low or thick palate (roof of the mouth)
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages

Could your snoring be related to sleep apnea?

Snoring can be related to sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that occurs when you stop breathing while you sleep. Although each breathing pause lasts seconds, you may experience hundreds of pauses during the night. These pauses deprive your brain of oxygen and increase your risk of developing a heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Pauses occur when your airway becomes blocked, preventing air from reaching your lungs. Blockages can occur when the tissues or muscles of the roof of your mouth or throat collapse or your tongue falls back against your throat.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea during a visit to the Long Beach ENT office, your doctor may recommend that you use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or wear a special oral appliance while you sleep.

Are you concerned that your snoring may mean that you have sleep apnea? Call your ear, nose, and throat doctors in Long Beach, CA, Dr. Jesse Tan, Dr. Jesus Tan, and Dr. Rose Eapen of Tan Head and Neck Center, at (562) 988-8818 to schedule your appointment.