Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Do you wake yourself or someone else with your snoring?
Studies show that about 40 percent of middle-aged men and nearly 30 percent of middle-aged women snore.

What causes snoring?

Snoring occurs when the soft palate and the uvula vibrate against the back of the throat or base of the tongue when a snorer inhales. As you sleep the muscles in your mouth relax, including your tongue, causing your airway to narrow. This narrowing leads to increased pressure in the airway and harder breathing, which causes loud snoring.

How serious is snoring?

Connections have been made between snoring and potentially fatal obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is an illness in which the soft tissues at the back of the throat completely close off the airway so that air cannot flow into the lungs. As the brain becomes aware of this blockage, a loud gasp is often heard and breathing often accompanied by snoring resumes. OSA and snoring have been linked to diseases, such as hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Sleep apnea is very common, as common as adult diabetes, and affects more than twelve million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Risk factors include being male, overweight, and over the age of forty, but sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, even children. Yet still because of the lack of awareness by the public and healthcare professionals, the vast majority remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.

What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty staying awake during meetings, conversations, etc…
  • Impaired ability to concentrate
  • Headaches
  • Impotency
  • Weight gain
  • Memory problems

Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated. Several treatment options exist, and research into additional options continues.

What is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliances are worn in the mouth to treat snoring and OSA, very similar to an orthodontic retainer or sports mouth guard. One of the causes of OSA and snoring is your tongue. When you sleep, your tongue can reposition itself blocking your airway. The appliance repositions your jaw so that the airway remains unobstructed throughout the night. Each oral appliance is customized for your own individual needs based on the severity of your condition. Oral appliances can be used alone or in combination with other means of treating OSA such as a C-PAP. Dr. McGrath can design an appliance to help adjust the position of your tongue and restore peace to your bedroom.

OSA Screening

Answer YES or NO

I choke or gasp during sleep.
Yes No
I awake with a sore, dry throat.
Yes No
I awake with a headache.
Yes No
I awake tired and have excessive daytime sleepiness.
Yes No
My snoring affects my relationship with my partner.
Yes No
My snoring causes my partner to be irritable or tired.
Yes No
My snoring requires us to sleep in separate rooms.
Yes No
My snoring is loud.
Yes No

If you answered yes to one or more of the previous, continue to the Epworth Sleepiness scale below.

Epworth Sleepiness Scale

The Epworth Sleepiness Scale is used to determine the level of daytime sleepiness. A score of 9 or more is considered sleepy. A score of 18 or more is very sleepy. If you score 9 or more on this test, you should consider whether you are obtaining adequate sleep, need to improve your sleep hygiene and/or need to see a sleep specialist. These issues should be discussed with a sleep professional. Our office will provide you with a referral for further diagnosis.

How likely are you to fall asleep in the following situations?

0 = Would never doze
1 = Slight chance of dozing
2 = Moderate chance of dozing
3 = High chance of dozing

Activity Score
Sitting and reading
Watching television
Sitting, inactive, in a public place (theatre, meeting)     
As a passenger in a car for an hour with no break   
Lying down to rest in the afternoon, if circumstances permit    
Sitting and talking to someone    
Sitting quietly after lunch without alcohol                        
In a car while stopped for a few minutes in traffic (you are the driver)

A score of ten (10) or above indicates you may be having a problem with daytime sleepiness. However, below ten does not necessarily mean you do not have a problem.

Print out this test, fill in your answers and see where you stand.