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Causes of Sleep Loss

Snoring

Why am I Snoring? / What Causes Snoring?

If the airway is obstructed in any way, preventing air from flowing through the mouth or nose, snoring can occur. Some examples of how the airway can be obstructed include:

  • If the throat or tongue muscles become too relaxed, they can fall back and obstruct the airway.
  • Allergies, sinus infections, a deviated septum, and other nasal issues can prevent air from flowing through the nose, leading to obstruction.
  • Some individuals may have excessive tissue that can obstruct the airway, such as a long uvula and/or long soft palate. These structures may vibrate against each other, narrowing the airway and causing an obstruction.
  • Young children may snore due to their tonsils and adenoids obstructing the airway.
  • Bulky throat tissue that obstructs the airway can sometimes be associated with individuals who are overweight.

Fortunately, there are several remedies designed to help stop storing, leading to a better night’s sleep for you and/or your partner. That being said, keep in mind that habitual snoring could potentially be a sign of sleep apnea—a condition associated with several serious health risks. For this reason, if you snore frequently, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway is repeatedly blocked (partially or completely) during sleep. Due to the restricted airway, the chest muscles and diaphragm fight to pull more air into the lungs, leading to a forceful jerk or loud gasp when breathing resumes. This pause in breath can lead to health risks and other negative side effects, so diagnosis and treatment is important.

It is quite common for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea to be unaware they have the condition—symptoms such as snoring and gasping for air are usually noticed by a loved one. However, there are several other signs to be aware of if you suspect you might have sleep apnea.      

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Although a person’s bed partner is typically the first to notice symptoms like snoring or pauses in breath while sleeping, there are several other indicators to watch for if you think you may have sleep apnea. Below is a list of some of the most common symptoms to be aware of:

  • Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
  • General daytime sleepiness
  • Unrefreshed sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Waking from sleep with a choking sound or gasping for breath
  • Loud snoring

A person who suffers from sleep apnea may wake up several times per hour, but these interruptions to restful sleep are generally extremely brief, so most patients do not remember waking up. Unfortunately, they will likely feel the effects of missing out on a full night’s sleep, which can include forgetfulness, drowsiness, and more.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, please contact our office for more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Edward Shukovsky.

Health Risks

The strain on the body caused by OSA interferes with quality sleep and can cause irregular heart rhythms. The reduced flow of oxygen can negatively affect the proper function of vital organs, leading to a variety of issues—some of which can be very serious, or even fatal. For more information, please visit our page on sleep apnea health risks. Familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea (listed above) can help lead to a diagnosis, ultimately helping you obtain appropriate treatment to prevent the negative effects of OSA.     

Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect men, women, and children—regardless of age or ethnicity. However, there are certain factors that can increase an individual’s potential for having OSA. These can include:

  • Nasal obstruction (due to a deviated septum, allergies, or other sinus issues)
  • Smoking
  • Large neck (men: over 17 inches; women: over 16 inches)
  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)  
  • Large tongue and/or tonsils

Additionally, individuals who are overweight are often at risk of developing OSA, since excess fat and tissues can become an obstruction to the airway when sleeping. Men also tend to be at a higher risk than women, although cases of sleep apnea are typically more common for all individuals over the age of 40.

Pediatric Sleep Apnea

Normal Child Sleep Behavior

Depending on their age, children need different amounts of sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep, children can develop issues such as:

  • Difficulty with memory and attention, leading to poor school performance
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Behavioral issues or hyperactivity
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Weight gain

To help your child stay healthy and have strong development as they grow up, encourage regular bedtime routines and good sleep habits.

Snoring, Snorting, and Mouth Breathing

Most children snore on occasion, and approximately ten percent of children snore regularly. Some common reasons for snoring include allergies, a stuffy nose, or a respiratory infection. It is fairly common for children ages three and up to snore during deeper stages of sleep, as well. If you notice your child snores loudly and very frequently, she or he may have sleep apnea. Sudden snorts or gasps while sleeping and/or regular breathing through the mouth during the day can also be signs of pediatric sleep apnea.

What is Pediatric Sleep Apnea?

Pediatric sleep apnea is most often the result of a child’s tonsils and adenoids blocking their airway as they sleep. Children with sleep apnea typically snore habitually and experience pauses between breaths. After a pause in breathing, these children will likely gasp or snort as they regain their breath. This is often accompanied by a jerking motion that can disrupt sleep. The poor sleep quality and reduced oxygen intake caused by pediatric sleep apnea can ultimately result in problems such as difficulty staying focused in school, behavioral issues, and other health concerns. Some other signs of pediatric sleep apnea include:

  • Sleeping with their head in an abnormal position
  • Falling asleep or daydreaming throughout the day
  • Habitual, loud snoring
  • Heavy sweating while sleeping
  • Tossing and turning at night
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Speaking with a nasal voice
  • Breathing through the mouth during the day

If you suspect your child might have sleep apnea, please contact us to learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Shukovsky.

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