Loud Snoring a Sign of Sleep Apnea

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Nearly everyone snores at one time or another, but when it is a nightly occurrence it may indicate a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.  This condition occurs when the airways become obstructed due to chronic inflammation in the airways or their collapse during sleep when the muscles relax.  Not only can this condition lead to other health problems, but it can be fatal if the sleeper doesn’t wake up to change position in order to breathe again.

Diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea is easily done through testing in a sleep laboratory.  If you or your significant other have a snoring problem you should see your doctor in order to have the testing scheduled.  It normally requires a night away from home so that you can be monitored in the sleep lab to determine how many times a night you quit breathing.  This determines whether or not you have obstructive sleep apnea or merely a common snoring condition.

With either diagnosis, there are many effective treatments available to reduce or prevent snoring.  It your doctor determines that you have obstructive sleep apnea he or she may prescribe the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.  It provides a steady stream of air through a nasal mask, allowing the airways to remain open during sleep.  This prevents, and quite often even cures, a snoring problem.  However, not everyone can tolerate wearing the CPAP mask.

In some cases, snoring can be prevented by the use of an oral device that is similar to the mouth guards worn while playing sports.  The device allows the bottom jaw to move forward during sleep, keeping the airways open.  The effectiveness of the device depends on how severe your snoring problem is.  You can discuss this treatment option with your doctor, who may refer you to a dentist that specializes in the fitting and creation of the device.

If you have a snoring problem, please let us know which of the many treatments you are using and how effective it is.

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