Normal snoring versus sleep apnea

by Americare Respiratory Services

If you are following our sleep apnea blog, you are probably well aware of how snoring and sleep apnea can affect your health.  To be blunt, sleep apnea can be a death sentence if left untreated.  Someone with sleep apnea has a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke, which can all be fatal.  The person who sleeps with you can suffer from sleep deprivation, which can have detrimental effects on their health as well.

Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, but there is a difference between normal snoring and sleep apnea-related snoring.  The main difference is in the sound.  Loud snoring is not normal. Loud, disruptive, and inconsistent snoring accompanied by symptoms of sleep deprivation indicates a risk for sleep apnea, which should be addressed by a medical professional right away.  

If you snore but do not wake up tired or have other symptoms of sleep deprivation, then your risk for sleep apnea may be lower.  It is always a good idea to talk to a doctor about your sleep habits if you snore or have trouble falling or staying asleep.

Most people do not realize they are snoring, so how would you know if you are a loud snorer or not?  For many people it is as easy as asking whoever you sleep with – a spouse, partner, etc.  If you are a very loud snorer, people who sleep in other rooms can probably hear it. 

Typically, snoring occurs when the airway in the nose and throat is blocked.  Sleep on your back might make it worse.  Maintaining a healthy weight and exercise routine can decrease your risk of snoring turning into a more serious sleep disorder. 

Sleep apnea is diagnosed when the nose and throat become blocked to the point where you actually stop breathing but do not wake up.  This is called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.  Another type of sleep apnea, called central sleep apnea (CSA), occurs when the respiratory system malfunctions due to the central nervous system. 

To learn more about sleep disorders, check out our patient education center:  Sleep Conditions A to Z.