Sleeping issues can be complicated to diagnose. Not only that, worse problematic cases like sleep apnea can easily be confused for mild snoring since the symptoms overlap. It is therefore very easy for one to make a wrong diagnosis on their case and take a treatment that is for another condition. Although snoring and sleep apnea in most cases will manifest themselves in almost the same way, and although one product may be used to manage both, they are still totally different cases and require individualized attention.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the irritating sound produced when you sleep due to the obstruction of your airway which causes vibration of the soft tissues in the throat against each other. Snoring can pose as a health risk to the snorer in addition to causing disturbance to your bed partner or house mates.
Almost half the population of all adults are said to experience snoring at one point or the other in their life. Causes of snoring include obesity, allergy, presence of growth of a foreign piece in your throat, nasal area obstruction and elongated soft palate. Chronic snoring is a serious condition that calls for intervention by a medical doctor and may require certain mitigation measures to curb it.
Sleep apnea, normally confused by some people as a case of severe chronic snoring is actually an extremely dangerous sleeping disorder that manifests itself through prolonged poses in your breathing as you sleep. It is very difficult for the sleep apnea victim to know that they have this condition as it is experienced in an unconscious sleep.
The only way that one can suspect that they are suffering from this condition is when they wake up feeling fatigued in the morning and they are prone to falling asleep while going about their daily chores like drinking, eating or even watching a TV which is abnormal for normal people. One can have sleep apnea and still be a chronic snorer.
The danger with sleep apnea is that if it’s not detected and managed early then you could potentially die in sleep or cause a road accident because of the prolonged poses in your breathing.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is the most common type of sleep apnea and results from physical nasal blockage that results in reduced flow of air. It leads to reduced oxygen flow to the victims’ lungs.
If you are suspecting that you might be suffering from sleep apnea then the best step to take would be to visit your doctor and have a sleep study test done on you.
How Do Anti Snoring Devices Work?
There is a large variety of techniques used in the operation of snoring devices. The most common ones are:
- The Tongue Stabilizing Device (TSD), which keep your tongue from falling back into your throat and causing an obstruction, and thereby freeing your airway for sufficient air passage.
- Mandibular Adjustment Device (MAD) which positions your lower jaw slightly above your upper jaw in a bid to keep your airways open.
Then there are gadgets that combine both techniques with the objective of increasing the level of efficiency.
How Do Sleep Apnea Devices Work?
Different sleep apnea devices use different techniques. The most common one, however, aims at repositioning your jaw to some degree upwards so that your airways stay open and your breathing can be more regular as you sleep. It also keeps tissues from vibrating or falling back and causing an obstruction to the airway.
This technique will kill two birds at once; it will solve your snoring problem if you have one, and it will also stop you from having abnormally low breathing or frequent poses in your breathing thereby regulating the oxygen amount that goes to your lungs.
Difference Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea Devices
As you can see, both the devices for snoring management and those for sleep apnea management appear to have some similarities. However, there are some slight but very critical differences in them.
- Since sleep apnea is a more serious case than snoring, the gadgets that are used in managing it are more uptight.
- Fitting an apparatus for sleep apnea management will involve you making a most and setting it to a dental office that then involves specialists in a dental lab to come up with a custom fit gadget for your mouth. Whereas for snoring, most gadgets use the boil-and-bite technique which you can perform in the comfort of our home to come up with a perfect fit for your mouth
- Sleep apnea gadgets are more comfortable and perfectly fitting as a result of the complicated design and the precision of craftsmanship that’s used in making them. On the other hand, you may need to mold your snoring several times to get the best fit.
- There are snoring gadgets that come in one-size-fits-all design something that is never found in sleep apnea gadgets.
- Some models of snoring gadgets will allow for lateral adjustment of your jaw while others are more rigid, on the other hand, sleep apnea gadgets are customized in the lab and will therefore naturally be made to provide you with maximum comfort.
- The efficacy rate of snoring gadgets may depend on the person using it. People with dentures or dental issues like under bite or overbite may require more advanced gadgets.
- I should have started with this difference as it is the biggest differentiator of the two. A sleep apnea device is medical equipment while a snoring mouthpiece is not.
- You cannot use (should not use) regulation loopholes to acquire a sleep apnea gadget. Instead, you should religiously follow the procedure for getting a sleep specialist or doctor’s appointment, getting tests done is necessary, getting the prescription for the gadget then waiting for your gadget to be customized and sent to you. The other option would be getting oral pillar surgery or CPAP therapy but these depend on the severity and causes of your condition. On the other hand, you may not require a prescription for purchasing an oral anti-snoring gadget online and you will have it mailed to your doorstep.
- Snoring can also be a symptom of more serious sleep apnea. In this case, your healthcare provider may advise you to use an ordinary anti-snoring gadget to see if there will be any improvements before diagnosing you with the serious condition.
- Cases of snoring or sleep apnea that result from obesity might require you to use a standard anti-snoring gadget as you go through weight loss. Both snoring and sleep apnea have been seen to substantially reduce or even to be eliminated just by weight loss.
The use life span of snoring devices and sleep apnea devices are different.
- While you can expect a sleep apnea gadget to last for years the snoring mouthpiece will only last from 6 month to 2 years and this also depends on whether you are also a night teeth grinder or not.
- Sleep apnea gadgets are made from molds taken from your mouth and the material is acrylic resins which is the same material used in making dentures. Because of this, they will fit perfectly in your teeth and will take years to wear out whether you are a teeth grinder or not.
- Snoring mouthpiece gadgets on the other hand are made of moldable thermoplastic material. Because of this, they are susceptible to easy wear and tear and will require more replacements.
- Since the sleep apnea gadget is recommended by a medical specialist and is made also by a specialist, they are closely monitored to give you a perfect fit. A lot of time is therefore invested in the device which promotes its quality and consequently durability.
In my opinion, this is the biggest difference between equipment for sleep apnea management and a snoring mouthpiece.
If we factor in time, doctor and dentists appointments, adjustments, follow-ups ad others then the sleep apnea equipment will cost you so much. For the gadget alone minus the charges for the doctor and dentist appointments, your bank account will be 1500 poorer.
The good news is that since sleep apnea has now been officially declared a medical condition, and some heath providers and insurance covers have begun covering the cost of treatment.
When it comes to snoring mouth guards, you will part with 30-150$ depending on the specific gadget. A premium gadget will cost you more. What causes this huge difference in the price of sleep apnea gadgets and snoring mouth guards is the material used in manufacturing the two. The material for sleep apnea is more durable and its custom-fitted by a specialist whereas that of snoring mouth guard is mass manufactured and you can fit it on your own in the comfort of your home.
The perfection in fitting for snoring mouth guards will normally depend on an individual person. However, a snoring mouth guard will still wear out much faster than that of a sleep apnea mouthpiece.
Which Mouthpieces Should I Choose?
Caution: Never diagnosis yourself with sleep apnea. Not everyone who snores is suffering from sleep apnea. It will therefore be a waste of time and resources for you to purchase an expensive gadget for sleep apnea (when it’s not the problem) whereas you could purchase a much simpler and effective snoring device online. However, you can follow these simple tips to determine what you are really suffering from and make the best decision on what to purchase.
- Most of the time the person suffering from sleep apnea or snoring won’t notice it until their bed partner points it out. Ask your partner to help you monitor your sleeping or you can also do this using a special App on iPhone.
- Thoroughly research on symptoms of both sleep apnea and snoring conditions.
- Talk to your health care provider about your concerns. The doctor might suggest that you undertake a sleep study test to enable them monitor you’re sleeping habits and formulate the best diagnosis.
- If the result of the test points your problem to be snoring, the doctor will talk to you about available gadgets that can help you correct the problem.
- If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, the doctor will also suggest the equipment that can help you including a CPAP machine. If you choose to use the CPAP machine you will be required to go for follow up check-ups where the doctor will be monitoring the performance of the gadget and making alterations where necessary.
It is crucial that you don’t try managing your sleep apnea with an anti-snoring device. For one, it can be risky since the gadget might not open your airway the correct way and might instead worsen your breathing difficulties. It is also likely that an anti-snoring mouthpiece will be ineffective in resolving your sleep apnea condition. If you are suspecting that your condition is worse than snoring, please check with your doctor before taking any steps so that the solution is approved and a sleep specialist can help monitor the improvement of your condition.
After you and your doctor have come up with a diagnosis and a cause of action for your sleep apnea, stick to your treatment plan and consult your doctor in case you feel like switching the device.
Sleeping plays a big role in maintaining good health and overall productivity. Poor quality sleep resulting either from a disrupted sleep schedule or general exhaustion in the morning (which indicates unsatisfactory sleep) will result in poor quality of life and performance.
It may seem like a big hassle going through dentist or doctor checkups, and it might also be expensive but when you weigh this and how it could save your life then I think you will prefer the former. In the end, your doctor appointments will help you successfully resolve your problem; improve your night sleep and possibly that of your sleeping partner or other housemates.