Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder during which patients experience brief interruptions of breathing while sleeping. These interruptions are caused by blockage that is typically the result of a collapse of your upper airway, which begins with your nose and throat and ends at the entrance of your lungs in your chest. The Epworth Sleep Test was developed to help diagnose sleep-related disorders.

It is estimated that 15% of the U.S. population suffers from a sleep-related disorder of some kind, including sleep apnea and snoring. To diagnose your specific issues, Metairie Snoring & Sinus will first review your medical history to determine whether you may have a potentially life-threatening disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome or OSAS.

Anatomy & Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea occur when there is a collapse of the upper airway, causing vibration, which leads to snoring, or blockage, which can lead to apnea.

Collapse most commonly occurs in the nose, causing mouth breathing, or the back of the throat, which includes the uvula (the bell in the back of the throat) and the soft palate (the arch shaped soft portion of the back of the throat), which may also cause snoring. The tonsils and tongue may also cause obstruction, especially in a supine (lying on your back) position. Being overweight may also cause pressure on your airway and reduce airflow.

A collapse of the upper airway may completely or partially block your breathing at night, which reduces the amount of air and oxygen that is able to reach the lungs. Your brain then senses this decrease in blood oxygen and causes you to unknowingly open your airway by gasping erratically at night, interrupting your sleep. As a result, patients with this disorder do not achieve the level of deep sleep that is required for restfulness, and often wake up tired and unsatisfied, which can lead to depression and weight gain, causing a vicious cycle that worsens sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, heart and lung disease or even sudden death.

Body Weight & Sleep Apnea

Weight gain, or difficulty losing weight, can be linked to obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), which causes arousals at night that do not allow you to have the quality, deep sleep that is required for restfulness and restorative sleep. Lack of sleep results in fatigue, leading to inefficiency and lack of motivation to stay active and exercise, which ultimately leads to weight gain.

OSAS also causes your metabolism to slow at night, making it difficult to lose weight. The hormones cortisol, gherlin, and leptin are all affected by the lack of deep sleep. These hormones all contribute to your overall body metabolism, and changes in these hormone levels result in less breaking down fats and an increase in fat production.

Lastly, OSAS causes a vicious cycle of weight struggle - weight gain worsens OSAS, which causes further weight gain.

Snoring & Sleep Apnea

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