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What’s the difference between snoring and obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep Apnea Austin TX

Approximately 25% of people in the USA snore nightly. The bed partner is typically significantly bothered by this noise but they may also be concerned that it is a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

There is a lot of confusion about these two problems and how they are related. In this blog, I will provide a clear understanding of both.

Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are actually the same disease. The difference is simply the severity of the issue.

Snoring is resistance to airflow through the upper airway while sleeping that creates vibration of the soft palate and tongue. This vibration creates an audible noise.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the same but the resistance is significant enough that there is a significant reduction in airflow (hypopnea) or near cessation of airflow (apnea). If the number of these episodes (hypopnea + apnea) equal 5 or more per hour, then by definition, the patient has obstructive sleep apnea.

The definition is somewhat arbitrary, meaning that each episode of hypopnea or apnea has to be 10 seconds in duration to “count” as an event. This means if the patient with snoring is having many of these events per hour, all lasting 9 seconds each, then they will be told they do not have obstructive sleep apnea. This can be very frustrating as the patient and the bed partner may be very aware of the poor quality sleep and excessive day time sleepiness associated with these events only to be told they don’t have a medical issue. This entity, where the patient has snoring and poor quality sleep that doesn’t quite meet the definition of obstructive sleep apnea, is called UARS (Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome).

Testing for Snoring and Sleep Apnea

In our office we can give the patient a simple but highly accurate Home Sleep Test to determine if they have snoring, UARS, or obstructive sleep apnea. We have a comprehensive approach to addressing these issues grounded in a understanding of the causes for these conditions and the necessary diagnostic equipment present in our office to accurately identify which causes are pertinent in any individual case.

Modern advanced office balloon sinuplasty and soft palate procedures can be performed under IV sedation in our office to help reduce or eliminate these conditions.

Schedule a Consultation

If you snore or think you may have UARS or OSA, come for a consultation and the help you need to resolve these issues.

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Posted in: Sleep Apnea, Snoring

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