Having problems with snoring? Wondering what the causes may be and what to do about it?

We asked the National Institutes of Health to Help us answer some basic questions.

We know: About Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Why do I snore?

Snoring is often a symptom or sign of sleep apnea. Sleep experts advise chronic snorers or people who think they may have sleep apnea to see their physician or a sleep specialist.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea affects as many as 12 million Americans of all ages. Itís a common disorder in which breathing stops during sleep for 10 seconds or more, sometimes more than 300 times a night. It causes excessive daytime sleepiness and affects peopleís quality of life.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

They include restless sleep, loud, heavy snoring (often interrupted by silence and then gasps), falling asleep while driving and/or during the day, morning headaches, loss of energy, trouble concentrating, irritability, forgetfulness, mood or behavior changes, anxiety or depression, obesity, and decreased interest in sex.

Not all people with sleep apnea experience all of these symptoms and not everyone who has these symptoms has sleep apnea.

What kinds of sleep apnea are there?

There are basically two kinds:
Obstructive sleep apnea may represent cessation of breathing due to mechanical blockage of the airway.

Central sleep apnea appears to be related to a malfunction of the brainís normal signal to breathe.

What are the treatments for sleep apnea?

  • For mild sleep apnea, treatments help people avoid sleeping on their backs.
  • For people with significant nasal congestion, a decongestant therapy may be prescribed.
  • Patients with obstructive and central apnea should avoid central nervous system depressants such as alcoholic beverages, sedatives and narcotics.
  • Many serious cases of obstructive sleep apnea can be relieved by a treatment called nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nasal CPAP). Nasal CPAP uses a mask-like device and pump that work together to keep the airway open with air pressure during each inspiration.
  • Surgery may benefit some patients by eliminating or reducing the narrowing of the airway due to anatomical defects.

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