While snoring seems relatively normal, it could be an indication of a more serious health problem. For instance, if you’re gagging or gasping while you snore, then you could have obstructive sleep apnea. In this guide, we’re going to go through everything you need to know about snoring and sleep apnea.
What is Snoring?
While you’re sleeping, the soft tissues in your neck begin to relax, which causes your breathing passage to become narrower. When your airway becomes narrow and you try to inhale, the soft tissue vibrates – that vibratory noise is what we know as snoring. There are several causes of narrow airways, including:
2. Large uvula
3. Excess weight
4. Nasal congestion
5. Drinking alcohol
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
While one symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring, the key difference between snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is that in the latter, your airway collapses or is blocked for a moment, which causes you to gasp or choke in your sleep.
Today, sleep apnea is considered to be a serious condition. This is because people who have sleep apnea may stop breathing more than 25 times an hour. Due to this, the quality of their sleep is poor, their body is oxygen-deprived, and they can’t get rid of carbon dioxide properly. As a result, they feel sleepy during the day and can experience severe headaches and other health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of heart attacks, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
How Do I Know If It’s Sleep Apnea?
You won’t know for certain if you have sleep apnea until someone else tells you that you’ve been gasping or choking in your sleep. There are no blood tests either that can be used to diagnose sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor. They’ll do the following to help determine a diagnosis:
1. A Physical Exam
Your doctor will check your throat, mouth, and nose to see if you’ve got enlarged tissues.
2. Ask You to Keep a Sleep Diary
Your doctor will ask you to keep a written diary for a few weeks which you’ll then need to bring to your next appointment. In this diary, you’ll write down when you sleep and wake up, for how long, whether you feel well-rested the next day, what times you feel sleepy during the day, and how often you choke or gasp while snoring (which a family member will have to confirm).
What Are the Treatment Options?
Sometimes, all you need to do is make a few changes to your waking and sleeping habits. These include quitting smoking, losing weight, using nasal strips to keep your nasal passageway open, and more exercise.
Your doctor could also suggest surgery (if you’ve got enlarged tonsils) or a CPAP machine. A CPAP machine is used to blow air gently into your throat in order to ensure that your airways stay open while you sleep.