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Sleep apnoea and snoring

Although many won’t admit it, snoring is extremely common. It is estimated that 60% of Australian adults occasionally snore, and for just over 30%, snoring is a daily occurrence. 

Whilst it can be inconvenient, and frankly sometimes a little annoying if someone in your household is partial to a bit of night time rumbling, it can actually be a sign of something a lot more serious than an interruption to your night’s sleep. 

Whilst some people are simply snoring, some may have a serious sleep disorder called Sleep Apnoea. The two conditions are often inaccurately used interchangeably and may be incorrectly treated as a result. While Sleep Apnoea will almost always leads to loud and frequent snoring, snoring does not always indicate Sleep Apnoea. Understanding the differences between sleep apnoea and primary snoring is the first step to effective treatment of both conditions. For all the people across the country who are spending their night’s being woken up throughout the night from frustrated bed partners, it’s important to know what their snoring means, and what they can do for their sake, and those that sleep next to them!

What is sleep apnoea?

Sleep apnoea is when someone stops and starts breathing repeatedly while asleep because the airway is not completely open. The muscles in the throat relax, meaning breathing stops, which may last for a few seconds to 30 seconds or even longer. The airway blockage causes an obstruction, which is the sound we hear. 

There are many symptoms you can look out for if you are concerned you are suffering from sleep apnoea. These include the obvious sign of very loud snoring. A partner may also say it sounds like you stop breathing in the middle of the night, followed by gasping for air. Awakening with a dry mouth combined with a morning headache, and excessive sleepiness or irritability are also common signs.

What causes Sleep Apnoea?

Patients that are receiving sleep apnoea treatment from us often ask us what has contributed to them needing it in the first place. There are many risk factors to be aware of if you want to avoid developing a sleep disorder. Excess weight increases the risk of sleep apnoea, as the fat deposits around your upper airways can obstruct you breathing. Unfortunately for the guys out there, being male is a big factor too. Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnoea than women, although the chances are higher in overweight women or those that have been through menopause. 

There are too many reasons to count on why you should avoid smoking, but if you want a snore-free life, cigarettes are a surefire way to ruin your chances. Smokers are three times more likely to have sleep apnoea, as it increases the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. Nasal congestion, family history and age also play a role. 

We can help.

If any of the above sounds familiar, it might be time to come in and see us. Our dentists are trained in both sleep apnoea and snoring treatment. Sleep apnoea treatment can include everything from surgery to support. We work closely with a sleep lab to assess and diagnose suspected sleep disorder and advise you on treatment that will best suit your needs. Make an appointment with us to have a chat. 

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