Skip to main content.

Signs of sleep apnea: When is snoring something more serious?

Posted November 23, 2020 by Lisa Perri BS, RRT, RPSGT, RST

Women laying in bed with CPAP machine on her face

Does your partner snore — loudly? Do they snort throughout the night? If so, it could be more than an innocent annoyance. It could be a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Loud, excessive snoring coupled with other symptoms, such as obesity and hypertension, could be a sign it’s something more.

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to stop during sleep — sometimes up to several hundred times a night. When you stop breathing, your blood oxygen levels can drop abruptly during the night, which causes the brain to wake you up to breathe.

Sleep apnea is not only frustrating when you are trying to sleep, it can be very serious and negatively impact your partner’s health. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause extreme fatigue and an increased risk of car accidents, as well as other significant side effects, such as a high risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes.

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, with about 80 percent of those cases undiagnosed and untreated.

If you or your partner is experiencing any symptoms of sleep apnea, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional and begin treatment. It could extend your lifespan.

Summa Health discusses everything you need to know about sleep apnea to keep you and your partner safe, while helping you both get a better night’s rest.

Sleep apnea risk factors

Men are twice as likely to develop sleep apnea as women, according to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The following risk factors can contribute to sleep apnea:

  • Obesity
  • A thick neck
  • Large tonsils or adenoids
  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Alcohol, tobacco or drug use
  • Nasal congestion

Obesity is the No. 1 cause of sleep apnea, so maintaining an ideal body mass index, healthy diet, and exercise regimen is key to warding off the disorder.

Sleep apnea symptoms

Many symptoms can be written off as stress, nasal congestion, poor eating habits or uncomfortable sleeping positions. While it’s true there are situations that may trigger a poor quality of sleep, that’s not the same as sleep apnea.

Signs you may be suffering from sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing (your partner may witness when you stop breathing), which can result in snorting
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or moodiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Cognitive impairment
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac disease

Diagnosis and treatment

If you think you or your partner are suffering from sleep apnea, contact your doctor to discuss symptoms.

To diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor will conduct a sleep study to monitor your breathing and other body functions during sleep. The in-lab study is noninvasive and only takes one night. During the night, you’ll be hooked up to several monitors to measure your heart rate, blood oxygen concentration, brain wave patterns and respiratory effort while you sleep.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will likely start you on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask. It delivers positive air pressure into the airway that helps keep soft tissues from collapsing.

Treatment could also include dental appliances that may help keep your throat open during sleep.

Thankfully, sleep apnea is very treatable — and the process is fairly simple. Nevertheless, it will make a tremendous difference in your health and quality of life, helping you feel better than you’ve felt in a long time.

Take Summa Health’s simple quiz to see if you are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. If you think you’re suffering from a sleep disorder, schedule an appointment with our Sleep Medicine Specialists by calling 330.996.7711.

About the Author

Lisa Perri BS, RRT, RPSGT, RST

Vitality eNews Sign Up

Receive the Summa Health eNewsletter for the latest health tips, advice and updates.

Related Blogs

View all Flourish Blogs

Fall Back Tips for Better Sleep

Fall is here, and with the change in the season comes the change in our clocks. On the first Sunday in November every year, we set our clocks back one hour. The time change can disrupt your sleep schedule, making it difficult to fall asleep and wake up on time. As sleep is essential for your overall health and well-being, you can do a few things to minimize this impact on your sleep, such as:

  • Gradually adjust your sleep schedule.
  • In the days leading up to the time change, you…

4 Benefits to Waking Early and How to Make the Transition

Are you an early bird or a night owl? A person’s sleep schedule preference is closely tied to their circadian rhythms, the natural physical process that follows a similar cycle every 24 hours. But either sleep-wake cycle can promote a healthy lifestyle, right? Not so fast. 

Several studies have associated later sleep times with many health issues. That’s because people who stay up late tend to accumulate sleep debt if they’re forced to wake early. Work…

Why Am I So Tired [Podcast]

Dr. Ketan Deoras discusses some of the more common issues of fatigue.

4 Alternatives to CPAP masks to treat sleep apnea

It’s estimated about 30 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. That number, however, continues to rise due to the country’s growing obesity epidemic.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes your breathing to stop during sleep — sometimes up to several hundred times a night. When you stop breathing, your blood oxygen levels can drop abruptly during the night, which may cause the brain to…

Things That Go Bump in the Night: Odd Sleep Behaviors [Podcast]

Healthy VitalsDr. James Bavis discusses parasomnias-- a group of sleep disorders that involve unwanted events or experiences that occur while you are falling asleep, sleeping or waking up.

8 Facts You May Not Know About Catching Your Zzzs

In today’s fast-paced world, sleep often takes a back seat. But, what many of us may not realize is good sleep is one of the pillars of good health, along with eating right and exercising regularly.

Sleep requirements vary by age, genetics and other factors, but the average adult should get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night for peak health benefits, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Find out 8 facts you may not know about the benefits of good…

Put Insomnia to Bed [Podcast]

Healthy VitalsListen to this episode of the Healthy Vitals Podcast featuring Ketan Deoras, MD.

All About Sleep Apnea [Podcast]

Dr. James Bavis & Dr. Ketan Deoras explain sleep apnea as well as signs, symptoms, and what to expect.

7 Health Benefits to Getting a Good Night's Rest

Getting better sleep doesn’t just improve your morning mood; surprisingly, it boosts your health, too. In fact, good sleep is one of the pillars of good health, along with eating right and exercising regularly. It’s true you can’t achieve optimal health without catching your Zzz’s each and every night.

Sure, most of us have a bout of insomnia from time to time. The bigger concern is chronic sleep loss.

Sleep requirements vary, but the average adult…


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.