Snoring…It is a noisy business!
A frequently asked question is do snore guard mouthpieces designed to stop snoring really work. The next questions is, do they help with sleep apnea?
Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea
To answer that, first we need to understand the cause of the snoring.
Sleep-disordered breathing involves a blocked airway in the throat but may be much more than just a noisy nuisance. It may be sleep apnea, or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a sleep disorder where a person stops breathing intermittently. These cessations in breathing may last anywhere from ten to thirty seconds and occur up to 400 times nightly. When breathing resumes, the sufferer often snorts and wakes themselves up.
There is also a more serious, loss common form of sleep apnea called Central Sleep Apnea, wherein the brain sometimes fails to signal the person that they aren’t breathing.
Who is Affected?
Doctors believe that snoring and sleep apnea affect over eighteen million Americans. While people often associate snoring with men, as men are more commonly affected, sleep apnea is likely amongst those who are overweight and over the age of 40. Interestingly, women also suffer from this disorder and ethnicity also seems to be a causal factor as Latin Americans and African-Americans are more frequently affected.
Sleep apnea can also run in families, so chances are if you have it, your children might too. One in ten children have sleep apnea, although symptoms tend to be mild and often outgrown. Parents who suffer from sleep apnea are wise to watch for daytime drowsiness and medical or behavior problems in their children.
Causes of Snoring and Sleep Apnea
While snoring may simply be due to being overweight, it could be due to the more serious obstructive sleep apnea that occurs when tissues in the back of the throat, tongue or tonsils block the airway. When the patient tries to breath, this blockage causes a cessation in breathing.
Negative Effects of Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Multiple interruptions to the sleep cycle caused by sleep apnea leads to excessive tiredness and fatigue during the day. If you find yourself dozing or falling asleep midday, your snoring needs to be addressed.
With regular snoring, the person who snores may sleep right through it, unaware that they’re affecting the sleep of their partner or housemates. This may cause irritation and negatively impact the health of people who share their home, making it well worth remedying.
As sleep apnea is an actual sleep disorder, it has more significant consequences on one’s health and mental state that should not be treated lightly. Lack of sleep resulting from this condition may result in poor quality of life and effectiveness at work. It can also be dangerous while driving or operating equipment as this may lead to car accidents, injuries (on and off the job), and chronically, can be responsible for a stroke or heart attack.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Solutions
With simple snoring, if the candidate is overweight, even a small percentage of body weight loss can improve symptoms. Stopping smoking can also help. Consider talking to your doctor before starting a weight loss or smoking cessation regimen.
Lying one your side can help keep your throat airway open whereas sleeping on your back allows gravity to pull throat tissues down, blocking your airway. If you can’t stay on your side, try special pillows or a shirt with tennis balls sewn in to keep you from turning onto your back.
To determine if you have true sleep apnea, your doctor will recommend a sleep study at a sleep center or at-home alternative. If moderate to severe OSA is confirmed, A C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device which blows an adjustable stream of air to keep the airway open is the standard treatment prescribed.
Surgery to remove large tonsils or minimize and stiffen sloppy tissues can be effective for some, but is not suitable for everyone.
It may seem like alcohol or sleeping pills are good sleep loss remedies, however, they can exacerbate sleep apnea by relaxing the muscles at the back of the throat and blocking the airway. Additionally, they don’t really deliver the quality of rest that a person needs.
A simpler solution for mild sleep apnea is an oral appliance or mouthpiece custom-made by your dentist to reposition your tongue and jaw to keep the airway open. It is less cumbersome than a C-PAP device and noninvasive, like surgery. Certainly, there are anti-snoring Apps, over-the-counter mouthpieces and chin straps available, but seeing a professional dentist is best.