Snoring is the sound of obstructed breathing during sleep. While snoring can be harmless (benign snoring), it can also be the sign of a more serious medical condition which progresses from upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

What causes snoring?

Snoring occurs when the structures in the throat are large and when the muscles relax enough to cause the airway to narrow and partially obstruct the flow of air. As air tries to pass through these obstructions, the throat structures vibrate, causing the sound we know as snoring. Large tonsils, a long soft palate and uvula, and excess fat deposits contribute to soft tissue narrowing.

Snoring Isn't Sexy : Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and air flow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep, and low blood oxygen levels. OSA has been associated with cardiovascular problems and excessive daytime sleepiness. The condition known as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) lies midway between benign snoring and true obstructive sleep apnea. People with UARS suffer many of the symptoms of OSA but sleep testing will be negative.

How do you know if you have OSA?

Take a simple test but be sure to visit your physician if you think you have a problem. This test is for daytime sleepiness, not specifically for snoring and apnea.  If you score high on the test be sure to visit your physician or dentist.  
Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
As a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, Dr. Goldberg is credentialed to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea using Oral Appliances to help keep airways open during sleep.  When the airways are open, you can look forward to a restful night of sleep.


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