Confessions of a Snore Partner
My husband's snoring has become a part of our nightly routine as much as brushing our teeth, turning on a fan for white noise, and fighting for the covers. It's something I've learned to live with.
But the ever-changing crescendo of snores and his intermittent gasps for air at night has set off enough alarm bells that got me asking, "When is snoring more than just snoring? When do you know it's something more dangerous, more sinister…"
As much as I try to avoid relying on the internet for a medical diagnosis, I started my research because I really wanted to know what we were up against. I needed to know if it's snoring or is it sleep apnea.
What Does Sleep Apnea Sound Like?
My husband's snoring can range from rhythmic gurgle to rusty chainsaw to deafening freight train...
Snoring doesn't necessarily mean obstructive sleep apnea, however loud, noisy sleep is often a symptom. Gasping, snorting, and periods of silence - not breathing at all - are signs that your snoring is something more than just a nuisance.
What Does Sleep Apnea Feel Like?
I thought I was the only one not getting a good night's sleep, but when I continuously was reaching for an empty coffee pot and I realized his excessive dependency on caffeine, it occurred to me he maybe wasn't sleeping as heavily as it seemed.
He falls asleep in about 30 seconds, while I toss and turn for what feels like hours, so I always assumed he was getting plenty of sleep. But when I asked how he usually feels in the morning, I was alarmed by his answer.
"Painful." was his typical man-of-few-words response, and when I pushed for him to elaborate, he added more. "My throat always hurts, my mouth is always dry. I have a hard time waking up and I usually don't remember how I got to work because I'm so out of it. I'm always tired, I never feel like I've actually slept."
Red flag after red flag.
What Does Sleep Apnea Look Like?
Well, from a medical standpoint it looks like airways that are too tight, turbinates that are too big, and chronic inflammation. Those things are hard to tell by just looking at my husband. And beyond his crooked nose and obvious deviated septum, I'm not much of a sinus expert.
However, what I can see is the way he struggles to stay awake past 6pm. I can see how tired he is in his eyes. I can see him losing energy and interest in things he used to enjoy.
So, is it Snoring or Sleep Apnea
Snoring is very common and it occurs when the airways collapse while we lay down. So it's not necessary to jump to the conclusion that if you or someone you know snores they automatically have OSA. However, when you combine all the other observations and side effects, it's important that you don't brush it off. Sleep apnea can have long term, damaging effects so make sure you get evaluated by a professional - just like the team at ADVENT.