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Can you have sleep apnea without snoring?

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A close-up of a woman sleeping on her bed Illustrating and showing airway during obstructive sleep apnea.

There are 2 types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, each of which requires different treatment. While many people think that snoring is a common symptom and indicator of having sleep apnea, you can still have sleep apnea without snoring.

Snoring is a very common indicator of sleep apnea but it is not the only indicator. There are many cases of sleep apnea that go undiagnosed because people who may have this condition do not snore. It is important to know what happens to your body when you have sleep apnea and how it can affect your overall health. 

Having a good night’s sleep is an important part of our health. Sleep apnea can affect our overall health, just as much as diet and exercise. If you are constantly waking up in the middle of the night, most often your REM sleep is being disrupted. REM sleep has many names but it is particularly important because of how it helps our brains develop. This can affect a lot of areas of our health if we do not get enough, which is why it is important to look for other signs if you suspect that you have sleep apnea.

What are other signs of sleep apnea?

Snoring is often the first sign that there could be something disrupting your sleep. It is often those who are sleeping in the bed with you that will notice before the one that is actually affected notices. Sleep apnea disrupts your sleep because it interrupts your breathing patterns. This causes many to stop breathing for a limited period of time and wake up gasping for air.

There are dangers of undiagnosed sleep apnea if some of the more obvious symptoms are not present. There are other some common symptoms to look for that could indicate that you might have sleep apnea:

  • Unexplained fatigued
  • Mood swings
  • Headache upon waking up
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Abrupt awakening that are accompanied by gasping or choking

These symptoms can seem quite small, and can lead to even bigger issues. If you are constantly tired, your productivity will go down, you might not be able to concentrate and perform normal daily tasks as efficiently as you could with a good night’s sleep.

A woman sitting on the bed is feeling a headache upon waking up.

What are some of the risks to having sleep apnea?

While most commonly having sleep apnea can be disruptive to your sleep patterns causing drowsiness during the day, mental health effects and productivity decreases, there are many other areas of your health in which having this condition can affect. Your physical health can be greatly affected in many ways if you do not get a good night’s rest.

By understanding some of the many benefits of having a good night’s sleep, you will be able to understand the risks that lack of sleep can have on your physical health. Some of the benefits to a good night’s rest are:

  • Allowing your body to perform processes to heal and repair 
  • Your immune system – sleep will ensure that your body’s natural resources will stay strong enough to fight against germs and sickness
  • How your body reacts to insulin – your body naturally regulates the sugars in your blood system. If there is a deficiency in your sleep, your body can increase or raise chances of getting diabetes.
  • Appetite and hunger – the less sleep that you have, the higher your appetite can be. This could lead to you feeling hungry when you are not and lead to not feeling full once you have eaten.

There are other factors, some of which you can control and reverse, that can put you at a high risk for sleep apnea. Assessing these risks and understanding what to look for will help you to find out if there are simple lifestyle changes you will be able to make or if you will need to visit the sleep clinic to be assessed. Some risk factors include:

  • Excessive weight
  • Being over the age of 40
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Nasal congestion
  • Medical conditions such as high blood pressure or congestive heart failure
  • Males and older males are often affected

Many people do not recognize many of the symptoms of sleep apnea and it can go undiagnosed for quite some time. It is important to pay attention to this area of your health just as you would for any part of your body. By understanding how you can look for signs of this condition, you can be better equipped when you bring these concerns to your health care professional. 

Who can assess if I have sleep apnea?

If you think that you are at risk for sleep apnea, there are solutions for you. This is a condition that will not go away on its own and need to be treated by a healthcare professional. While there are some lifestyle changes that you will be able to make, you will still need to have the help of a professional. 

There are many ways in which your sleep apnea can be treated. Whether this is a worst case scenario needing surgery or something not as invasive as needing to wear a sleep apparatus, the dentists at Symmetry Dental & Sleep Apnea clinic are here to help. Typically there will be signs that are present in your oral health in which your dentist will be able to assess. The professionals at Symmetry Dental are here to help. If you have any questions or want to book an appointment to speak to someone about your concerns, we are here to help and ensure your sleep gets back on track.

Dr. Saleema Adatia

Written by Dr. Saleema Adatia

Dr Adatia did her dental training at Tufts University in Boston MA and graduated in 2006.  Returning to her hometown of Calgary, Dr. Adatia worked as an associate for many years before starting Symmetry Dental.  

Dr. Adatia has focused her clinical practice to the dental management of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. She has completed extensive training in dental sleep therapy, including a residency at her alma mater, Tufts University, and multiple courses focused on evidence-based education and the medical aspects of sleep related breathing disorders.

Dr. Adatia is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, which focuses on training dentists on how to provide oral appliance therapy for people who suffer from sleep apnea.  She has also been involved in clinical trials investigating the effectiveness of novel technologies for the treatment of OSA.

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