What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

December 13th, 2016

Both fall into the category of sleep-disordered breathing. Simple snoring represents a mild disorder in which breathing becomes very loud but the upper airway is only partially obstructed during sleep.

Snoring is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. However, unlike mild snoring, sleep apnea is a serious medical disorder that occurs because the airway is totally obstructed during sleep and the patient stops breathing completely for 10 seconds or more. In one night, a sleep apnea patient may experience hundreds of “apneic events” (or involuntary breathing pauses). If your partner hears loud snoring punctuated by silences and then a snort or choking sound as you resume breathing, this pattern could signal sleep apnea.

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