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How is snoring related to obstructive sleep apnea?

While snoring is caused by a partial obstruction, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a temporary but complete closure of your throat during sleep. It results in repeated episodes of stopping breathing (apnea) during which you continue to make efforts to breathe. Loud snoring is the most common symptom of OSA. The sound occurs as you briefly waken at the end of the apneic period and begin to breathe. Some OSA sufferers are described as making snoring or gasping sounds when they resume breathing.

A history of snoring often precedes the development of other symptoms which include excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, memory impairment, morning head ache, poor work performance and loss of sexual interest. Severe OSA can result in serious complications including high blood pressure, heart rhythm disturbances and heart failure. The diagnosis of OSA is made by specialized testing. An overnight sleep study is required to confirm the diagnosis and determine its severity.

Snoring without apnea is not usually harmful to your health and many snorers who have none of the above symptoms do not have significant OSA. However, some people with OSA are unaware they have it. Thus, careful medical attention is required to ensure the OSA is properly diagnosed and treated.

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