Snoring is a sound produced during sleep by the vibration of the pharyngeal wall. It is a sign of a partial obstruction of the airway by soft tissues such as the tongue, the soft palate, the uvula and the tonsils. When the width of the airway is reduced, the out pressure pushes the tissues backward. These tissues pulse vibrate the passage of air, causing the characteristic sound of snoring.
-What does snoring indicate?
There are a lot of factors that may cause a person to snore. Snoring is a very important sign for the health professionals involved in the treatment of sleep apnea. It shows that the airway collapses and the person has a significantly greater risk of expressing obstructive sleep apnea.
-How common is snoring?
An estimated 25% of men and 15% of women snore every night. Of those who snore, a significant proportion (34-60%) are suffering from a serious and life threatening disorder, sleep apnea.
-Just snoring or suffering from sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea often remains undiagnosed because many patients think they just snore when they are in fact suffering from this extremely serious sleep disorder.
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea have the same cause. Apnea occurs when the soft tissue of the upper respiratory tract completely obstruct the airflow, causing cessation of breathing. The air does not reach the lungs and the oxygen concentration in the blood decreases. When oxygen in the blood falls below a certain level, sleep is interrupted and the individual wakes up and tries to breathe. This is done so quickly that often the person does not realize it.
Snoring in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea has certain peculiar features. Snoring intensity is not stable and fluctuates robustly. At times the snoring is very loud, after a while it diminished greatly, or no breathing can be heard. A new cycle then ensues. Parallel to this, the person can produce breath noises or sounds of choking sensation as he/she tries to breathe. In the morning, he wakes up without feeling the refreshing effects of sleep. He feels weak and fatigued.
If you think you demonstrate the above signs and symptoms, it is advisable to consult a specialist who will diagnose the disease and advise you on the most appropriate treatment.