A LOT MORE THAN YOU THINK!
Many people believe that sleep apnea is simply serious snoring, but the two conditions are in fact quite different in their causes, symptoms and treatment. It is important to determine whether you suffer from sleep apnea as the condition can be extremely dangerous and, in some cases, lead to death.
Snoring is caused by vibration of respiratory structures due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. Sleep apnea is due to a lack of respiratory effort or a physical blockage to airflow, or a combination of both.
There are two types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep and is the more common condition.
Central sleep apnea is when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.
Snoring leads to noise and interrupted sleep, while sleep apnea causes the sufferer to actually stop breathing during sleep. These abnormal pauses in breathing are referred to as apneas and the abnormally low breathing which can also occur is called hypopnea.