Sleep Apnea

What causes snoring & OSA
Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) are breathing disorders, which occur during sleep, due to the narrowing or total closure of the airway.

Snoring is a noise created by the partial blocking of the airway. When you fall asleep your muscles relax, including those that control the tongue and throat. The soft tissue at the back of your throat can sag, narrowing the airway. Incoming air then makes the tissue at the rear roof of the mouth (the soft palate), the flap of skin hanging from the palate (uvula) and the throat vibrate – a sound we know as snoring.

Snoring is often no greater problem than the noise itself. However, loud snoring may be a sign of a more serious problem – OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea).

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is when the airway becomes completely blocked and breathing stops. The brain then detects the lack of oxygen and prompts a momentary arousal to draw breath. Although OSA sufferers may experience hundreds of apnea episodes per night, they are unlikely to remember any of them. In fact, if the sufferer lives alone or sleeps separately they may not be aware of their condition, even after many years.

What causes obstructive sleep apnoea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a serious sleep-related breathing disorder. In a person with OSA, the tongue and muscles of the upper airway relax to a point where they collapse and the airways become obstructed during sleep. This blocking of the airways can cause brief breathing arrests – sometimes up to 600 episodes of arrested breathing may occur in a single night. The brain responds by sending out arousal signals to prevent the sleeper from suffocating. The sleeper, who is typically unaware of these signals, gasps for air and starts breathing again. In the process, loud snoring noises are often produced. The consequence of this recurrent arousal is non-restorative sleep and health problems related to this condition. In the morning, the patients wake up feeling unrefreshed and run down. They often suffer from daytime sleepiness and lack of concentration, which may cause them to fall into the dreaded microsleep while driving. Loud snoring may be an important sign that a person is suffering from a serious form of obstructive sleep apnoea. Untreated sleep apnoea can increase the chance of having high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke. Problems with sexual function and diabetes may also be associated with sleep apnoea. People with the above symptoms should get in touch with their dentist.