How are Snoring and Sleep Apnea Related?

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If you're like many people, you may assume that snoring means you have sleep apnea — but that is not always the case. Generally speaking, most patients who have sleep apnea also snore to some degree — often severely — though not all people who snore have true sleep apnea, which is characterized by the collapse of tissues and muscles in the throat and soft palate while asleep. In patients with sleep apnea, these soft tissue and muscle collapses can indeed cause snoring, which can be a nuisance for those nearby but also a danger to the patients themselves. Here, physician and Los Angeles, CA sleep medicine specialist Dr. Avi Ishaaya of Dr. Avi Ishaaya Centers provides further information about the link between snoring and sleep apnea, as well as what to do if you suspect sleep apnea in yourself or a loved one.

Does snoring always mean you have sleep apnea?

No. There are many people who snore that do not have the classic anatomical signs of sleep apnea — meaning when the airway is physically obstructed and causes the patient to stop breathing many times throughout the night and sometimes several times per minute. People who snore but do not have true sleep apnea may do so because of another condition or cause of snoring, like allergies, inflammation, a nasal issue, or something as simple as their sleep position.

What's the connection between snoring and sleep apnea?

While snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, it is not definitive on its own. Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is partially obstructed. In sleep apnea, this obstruction becomes severe enough to cause brief and repeated interruptions in breathing, leading to decreased oxygen levels in the blood and causing the person to wake up repeatedly throughout the night. While they are separate and distinct issues, there are several factors that can contribute to both snoring and sleep apnea. These include:

  • Weight
  • Age
  • Nasal congestion
  • Alcohol and sedatives
  • Smoking

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

If you suspect you or a loved one has sleep apnea, it's important to seek medical evaluation. Dr. Ishaaya may recommend a sleep study, either conducted at our onsite facility or at home with a portable monitor, to help diagnose sleep apnea. These studies measure parameters such as airflow, blood oxygen levels, breathing patterns, and brain activity during sleep.

How are snoring and sleep apnea treated?

Treatment for snoring and sleep apnea varies based on the severity and underlying cause. For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and changing sleep positions can be effective. For more severe cases, medical treatments may be necessary, including the use of a CPAP machine while sleeping, an oral (dental) appliance for sleep apnea, or even surgery. Following a thorough evaluation, sleep study, and other diagnostic steps, Dr. Ishaaya will recommend the most appropriate sleep apnea treatment option possible for you.

Find out if your snoring is serious with a sleep apnea evaluation in Los Angeles, CA

Remember — while there is a significant relationship between snoring and sleep apnea, they are not necessarily synonymous. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not everyone with sleep apnea snores. Understanding the differences and recognizing the symptoms of sleep apnea is critical for timely diagnosis and treatment, which can significantly improve your quality of life and overall health. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, don't hesitate to contact Dr. Avi Ishaaya Centers to schedule your sleep apnea evaluation and sleep study for snoring with Los Angeles sleep medicine specialist Dr. Avi Ishaaya today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.