July 30, 2014
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Snoring is the sign of a breathing problem. In some cases, it is a red flag for a more serious medical problem called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Under normal conditions, the muscles in the upper part of the throat keep the airway open so air can easily flow into the lungs. These muscles relax when you fall asleep causing the soft tissue in your throat to cave in and your tongue to fall into the back of your throat. When you try to breathe in through a smaller or more narrowed airway, the tissue in your throat will vibrate and cause the snoring sound.

Snoring can seriously afffect your quality of life. It can be embarrassing and inconvenient. Snoring often leads to sleeping in seperate bedrooms and can cause problems in relationships. Studies have shown that the bed partners of people who snore don't get the sleep they need. Everyones health and well-being suffer when they don't get enough sleep. Snoring can cause headaches, fatigue, difficultty in concentration, and reduced work performance. Simple snoring does not necessarily affect the health of the person who is snoring; but snoring is considered the "warning sign" of a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when your airway completely collapses and blocks airflow to your lungs. When you fall asleep, your jaw shifts position or opens causing your tongue to fall into the back of your throat. When this happens, your airway narrows and air is forced through a much smaller opening in order to maintain breathing.

Breathing through a narrow airway creates friction. As air is sucked into the lungs the negative pressure can suck airway shut. The harder you try to breathe, the tighter your airway seals. This airway obstruction persists until the brain partially wakes you up. The sleep apnea cycle-falling asleep, jaw relaxing, airway collapsing, unconsciously awakening with a gasp, falling back asleep-can repeat itself one time perminute or more in sever cases.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea, from mild to severe, is a serious chronic disease. With a blocked air passage, you do not recieve enough oxygen. Both the awakenings and oxygen deprivation can cause the development of other health problems such as: heart disease, hypertension, stroke, sexual dysfunction, depression, reflux, automobile accidents, learning and memory difficultues.

-National Sleep Foundation at www.sleepfoundation.org

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