MedWatch- Snoring from Medwatch 7 KSWO on Vimeo.

Snoring is a problem that so many people deal with on a nightly basis. But what if your snoring is actually something more than that, like sleep apnea. Doctors say it can be a serious problem that you might want to get checked out.

Snoring, you know that pesky sound that your husband or wife makes at night is more common than you think. In fact, doctors say 44 percent of men, and 28 percent of women will habitually snore. But what causes a person to snore?

“Anything that can cause restriction of the upper airway, such as nasal congestion, enlarged tongue, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and even obesity can cause snoring,” said Dr. James Rebik, Otolaryngologist.

Ear, nose and throat doctor James Rebik, says snoring most often occurs when someone is laying on their back.

“It can also be exasperated when allergies flare up. Or if a person’s excessively fatigued. Usually, if a person would sleep on their side or maybe on their stomach, the incidence of snoring is less.”

Snoring may also be a sign of a more serious problem called sleep apnea.

“Apnea is partial or complete collapse of the upper airway during sleep. And it’s usually defined as a cessation of breathing for greater than 10 seconds in length.”

There are several different types of sleep apnea, but the most common one is obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Rebik says someone who suffers from sleep apnea, may gasp for air, snort, choke or have pauses in their breathing while sleep. Dr. Rebik it’s not something to take lightly.

“Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to a lot of other serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, strokes. And the patient who has sleep apnea but is not treated is at 7 times more risk of dying in a fatal car accident.”

Dr. Rebik says the incidence of sleep apnea is increasing in the country, with most of the patients undiagnosed. However, there are some signs and symptoms that you may suffer from sleep apnea.

“Between 10 and 30 percent of the patients that have untreated sleep apnea will have headaches when they wake up…If they’re falling asleep at meetings, falling asleep at church, falling asleep when they’re reading, or watching TV. Those are all signs of obstructive sleep apnea.”

Dr. Rebik says a sleep study can be done in order to diagnose you and then after that, there are several ways sleep apnea can be treated.

“Sleep apnea, depending on the severity, can be treated with oral appliances, positive airway pressure such as C-PAP or Bi-PAP, and then weight loss of course. And there may be various surgical procedures that can be performed too. But just like in snoring, there can be several different causes of a sleep apnea. So one surgical procedure is probably not going to cure the patient of sleep apnea.”

If you snore or your partner snores, and you’re concerned it could be sleep apnea, you can call Dr. Rebik’s office and schedule an appointment to be evaluated.

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