Snoring occurs when there is a partial obstruction to the airway, causing the soft tissue at the back of the throat to flap and vibrate as we breathe. It is common for most people to snore at some point in their life; however severe chronic snoring can impact your sleep, health and may often indicate a more serious underlying issue, most commonly Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a serious disorder where breathing is continually interrupted during sleep. While asleep, there is a collapse of the airway at the back of the throat, causing no airflow and a cessation of breathing. The obstruction in the airway may be caused by the muscles in the back of throat relaxing too much, excessive weight and fat around the neck, the tongue falling back in the throat, or a combination of these.

When the airway collapses, breathing stops for a period of time. The body detects that it is not receiving enough oxygen, which prompts an arousal in sleep, just enough to regain muscle tone and start breathing again. Then, as sleep takes back over, the airway again collapses. Individuals may stop breathing from 3 to 60 seconds at a time, with these events occurring from 5 to 80 times per hour of sleep.


Symptoms of OSA include:

  • Snoring

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Waking up during the night gasping or choking

  • Morning headaches

  • Waking unrefreshed

  • Poor memory and concentration

  • Disturbed or restless sleep

  • Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning

  • Depression, anxiety or mood behaviour changes


Effects of untreated OSA include:

  • High blood pressure

  • Increased risk cardiovascular disease

  • Increased risk of stroke

  • Type II diabetes

  • Obesity

  • Depression

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Impotence

  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents

There are numerous options available for the treatment of OSA. The most appropriate treatment depends on a person’s severity of OSA, anatomical features, medical history, degree of symptoms and occupation.


Treatment options for sleep apnea.