Ask the Expert: Does Snoring = Sleep Apnea?

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The World Health Organization estimates 100 million individuals across the globe suffer from sleep apnea. In fact, an American Sleep Apnea Association report states that sleep apnea affects 1 in 4 men and 1 in 9 women across the United States. Therefore, it is estimated that between 50 million and 80 million Americans have sleep apnea. In addition, it is speculated that close to 80 percent of all sleep apnea patients remain undiagnosed, causing people to potentially battle a host oflife-threatening health risks such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Signs

  • Waking up with a sore/dry throat
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
  • Sleepiness while driving/drowsy driving
  • Morning headaches
  • Restless sleep
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
  • You have diabetes or other health problems
  • Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
  • Weight gain

What is Sleep Apnea?

While asleep, individuals with sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods of time. According to the America Lung Association, pauses in breathing can last just a few seconds or as long as a few minutes, and occur as little as 5 to as many as 30 times per hour. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an obstruction or collapse of the airway, which impacts your breathing during sleep. With no or little air freely flowing to your lungs, there is a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that sleep apnea is a debilitating and life-shortening condition that can impact not only your life but livelihood.

 Sleep Apnea Facts

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is thought to be more prevalent than both asthma and adult diabetes, possibly affecting more than 50 million Americans
  • Public health advocates think it may be as big a public health hazard as smoking
  • The National Commission on Sleep Disorders Research estimated that sleep apnea is probably responsible for 38,000cardiovascular deaths yearly
  • Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure by 140%, the risk of stroke by 60%, and the risk of coronary heart disease by 76%

What Happens to Your Body During an Apnea?

During sleep, your body undergoes many physiological changes. If you have OSA, your soft palate sags and the tongue relaxes as it slides backward which can partially or totally obstruct your airway. The condition can be further complicated by excessive weight, loss of muscle tone due to aging or excessive tissue in the upper airway.  Additionally, sleeping on the back or imbibing in alcohol use may increase apnea events. Few people are aware of the potential health hazards of sleep apnea if it is left untreated.

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

One of the fundamental problems facing individuals who might suffer from sleep apnea is their lack of awareness of the condition and its symptoms. Hence, it is vitally important that any person experiencing sleep apnea symptoms receives an accurate sleep disorder diagnosis from their healthcare provider. If you feel you or your partner may have sleep apnea, call Comprehensive Sleep Care to schedule a consultation with one of our sleep medicine physicians.

Is it Dangerous to Leave Sleep Apnea Untreated?

If your sleep apnea is left untreated, you will continue to experience disrupted sleep and fatigue that can have very negative impacts on your overall health. With lack of restful sleep, it is likely you may have difficulty with concentration, reasoning, and reaction timing. What you may not realize is that you are at serious and higher risk to develop other health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart attack and heart failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even experience accidents at work or behind the wheel of your car.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, the first thing to do is schedule a consultation with your doctor or one of our sleep medicine physicians. The good news is that sleep apnea is an easily and highly treatable condition – solutions are available that can help you rest easier, feel better during the day, and reduce your risk of potentially dangerous health complications.


The Comprehensive Sleep Care Center (CSCC) is one of Washington, D.C. metropolitan area’s most experienced medical practices for diagnosing and treating the many causes of sleep disorders in both children and adults. Unlike many sleep clinics, our sleep medicine team is devoted entirely to treating sleep related disorders, ensuring that our doctors focus on the issues that matter most to our patients. Each of our physicians are board-certified in sleep medicine and have devoted their entire practice to the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. Our sleep medicine team are experts at what they do, with extensive knowledge and experience in the very latest in sleep medicine. As an important partner in your health, our sleep medicine team works to uncover the answers you and your referring physician needs to ensure your best possible care and sleep health. Our team is committed to providing the highest level of comfort, expertise, and professionalism throughout your care.

Comprehensive Sleep Care Center


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[Ask The Expert is a promotional program sponsored by Loudoun Now. The writers have held out that they have experience, training, education and/or certifications to qualify as experts in their fields. Although shared on Loudoun Now‘s online platforms, the writers are solely responsible for this content.]


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