What is Snoring?

Posted by on Nov 10, 2011 in Snoring | 6 comments

What is Snoring?

Talk about a rude awakening. You’re enjoying a good night’s sleep when suddenly you’re jarred awake by the intolerable sounds of snoring. But snoring can be much more than just a mild annoyance; it could be a symptom of a serious medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea. In order to help you or a loved one with this condition, it’s important to understand what it is and what causes it. With this in mind, Central California Sleep Center in Fresno has put together a series of educational articles to help residents of Fresno and Clovis get a better night’s rest.

Snoring Defined

Snoring is the caused by an obstruction of the airways during sleep. Vibrations of the tissue within the soft palate cause the deep, guttural rattling sounds associated with this condition.

Types of Snoring

All snorers have what is called “incomplete obstruction” of the upper airway. As you enter deep sleep, the tissues around your airway relax, partially blocking the flow of air. As you breathe in and out, these tissues rattle, causing the sounds of snoring.

  • Mild Snorers:
    Mild snorers who sometimes exhibit noisy breathing during sleep and continuous or rhythmical snoring experience what is known as primary snoring, or simple snoring. These snorers do not experience a long pause in breathing during sleep, also known as apnea.
central California sleep center fresno
  • Severe Snorers:
    More severe snorers often experience “complete obstruction” during sleep. This occurs when the upper airway is completely blocked for 10 seconds or longer.  These periods of silence are often followed by gasps or snorts as the person fights to take a breath. Individuals who experience complete obstruction on a regular basis, or those who snore so loudly that they disturb others, almost certainly have what is known as obstructive sleep apnea.

Consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

People who suffer from chronic obstructive sleep apnea rarely get a full night’s rest. Disruptions in breathing cause the person to wake up periodically throughout the night. The next day, the person is extremely tired, exhibiting such signs as irritability, fatigue, lethargy, a reduced ability to concentrate, and morning headaches.

But obstructive sleep apnea doesn’t just rob you of your sleep. It can cause serious medical conditions as well. If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, thickening of the heart muscle (ventricular hypertrophy), and a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). In fact, an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people per year die due to untreated obstructive sleep apnea.

Excessive snoring is not something to be taken lightly. If you believe you or a loved one may suffer from sleep apnea, please contact the Central California Sleep Center today.

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