Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Snoring is best described as a sleep disorder.  This disorder is more than a medical problem.  Snoring is a social problem in that it effects both the person snoring and the people who cannot sleep because of the noise created.  Lack of sleep can have significant side effects detrimental to mental and physical health.  Scientifically speaking, snoring is a disturbance in the upper airway, and a result of vibration in the soft palate which creates noise.  This vibration most often occurs in the part of the soft palate known as the uvula.  The uvula is the part of your oral anatomy that hangs down from the roof of your mouth just above the back of the tongue.  Snoring can be a sign of more serious problems such as sleep apnea.

Nearly 18 million Americans suffer from a sleeping disorder called sleep apnea, yet less than 1 million even know they have it.

Sleep apnea is a complex problem that occurs usually at night during sleep.  This is a disorder where a person, child or adult, repeatedly stops breathing, in his or her sleep.  These episodes of time can last anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes, causing the person to snort and gasp for air all night long, without even knowing it.  This condition can become a more serious medical condition.  Snoring can be a sign of such a problem.

A person suffering from sleep apnea can also be affected by a number of related health problems.  Many serious diseases can be triggered by a lack of oxygen or increased carbon dioxide levels, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.  Obesity is found to be common among OSA sufferers, although it may be the cause as well as the effect.  Fatty deposits invade the throat and cause airway obstruction, resulting in sleep apnea.

Oral or dental appliances may be a useful option for patients who snore or have mild to moderate sleep apnea.

A detailed sleep study will need to be performed by a doctor specializing in sleep medicine prior to your initial consultation in our office.