Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is characterised by a pause in breathing while a person is asleep. And snoring is a sound caused by vibrations of respiratory structures such as the nose, mouth, throat, and upper airway passages, resulting from the obstructed airflow while a person is asleep.

While sleep apnea and snoring share a few similarities, there are many differences between the two, primarily snoring being a leading cause of sleep apnea.

Understanding the difference between snoring and sleep apnea can help identify whether it is simply snoring or sleep apnea. Furthermore, early detection of snoring can stop it from progressing to sleep apnea. In this guide, we’ll explore the causes, associated risk factors, and mainly the differences between snoring and sleep apnea.

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A] Sleep Apnea: The Causes and Risk Factors:

Sleep apnea can be caused by various factors that affect the throat muscles and surrounding tissues, making it difficult to breathe when a person is sleeping. Listed below are causes and sleep factors that can lead to sleep apnea.

Causes & Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea:

Obesity can lead to the accumulation of fatty tissues in the neck and tongue area, which can obstruct the airways.

According to an NCBI Study, men are more likely to develop sleep apnea compared to women.

The risk of sleep apnea increases with age.

People with a family history of sleep apnea can be more susceptible to developing sleep apnea.

Nasal congestion can obstruct nasal passage, increasing the risk of sleep apnea.

Smoking can cause inflammation and lead to fluid retention in the upper airway, increasing the risk of sleep apnea.

Consumption of alcohol and other sedatives can relax your throat muscles, interfering with breathing during sleep, causing sleep apnea.

People who have medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease are more at risk of sleep apnea.

Sleeping position, especially sleeping on your back, can increase the chances of developing sleep apnea. This position can cause the tongue and soft tissues to collapse, obstructing the airway.

Types Of Sleep Apnea:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): OSA is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people across the world. It occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat fail to keep the airway open during sleep. This obstruction of the airway can cause a person to stop breathing for brief periods of time, resulting in disrupted sleep, daytime sleepiness, and other health complications.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Central sleep apnea is a sleep disorder caused when the brain fails to send proper signals to muscles that control breathing during sleep. CSA is often associated with medical conditions such as heart failure, stroke, or neurological disorders.

B] Snoring: The Causes and Risk Factors:

Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors that can cause the vibration of respiratory tissues and airways. Snoring and sleep apnea share a lot of common causes and risk factors, including obesity, ageing, gender, genetics, alcohol and sedatives, nasal congestion, and sleep position.

The primary difference between snoring and sleep apnea is that snoring can cause sleep apnea. This means those who snore are more at risk of developing sleep apnea. However, not everyone who snores will develop it. This is why you need to get in touch with an expert sleep apnea specialist in Mumbai, who can help diagnose if your snoring is more than what it seems.

Let’s take a look at some differences that highlight how sleep apnea and snoring differ from each other.

C] Sleep apnea Vs Snoring: The Differences Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea:

1. Loudness and frequency of sound:

The loudness and frequency of the sound produced while sleeping is one of the important factors that can help answer your question, “Is snoring the same as sleep apnea?”

When snoring, a person makes a low to moderate level of sound that can often be described as a rumbling or vibrating noise that is consistent throughout the night. In contrast, people with sleep apnea produce loud and disrupted snoring sounds followed by periods of silence and interrupted breathing.

2. Breathing pattern:

Breathing pattern is another factor that can help you differentiate between snoring and sleep apnea. While snoring, a person continuously breathes, whereas, with sleep apnea, the person may experience complete or partial airway obstruction. The obstruction can lead to episodes of interrupted breathing. This can last several seconds and may also result in a drop in blood oxygen level.

3. Health implications:

While this factor may not directly help you identify if you have sleep apnea or snoring. The health implications of both sleep apnea and snoring are vastly different.

Typically, snoring can be addressed with a few lifestyle changes and some expert-recommended snoring exercises. However, chronic snoring can lead to poor sleep quality and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Sleep apnea, on the other hand, is a serious health condition that can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, and accidents.

4. Diagnostic tests:

A medical professional may conduct diagnostic tests to assess a person’s breathing pattern when they are asleep. Some of the widely used diagnostic sleep study tests include polysomnography and home sleep study tests that monitor various parameters, including brain waves, eye movements, and muscle activity while the person sleeps.

Diagnostic tests

D] How to Tell if You Have Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

To summarise, if you are experiencing the following symptoms, you might have sleep apnea. However, you should keep in mind expert opinion is necessary to confirm the self-diagnosis.

Loud snoring followed by sudden silence or gasping for breath

Choking or gasping during sleep

Morning headaches

Excessive daytime sleepiness

Restless sleep

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, then you might have a snoring problem. However, you need to get an expert opinion to confirm the self-diagnosis for snoring.

Loud and frequent snoring

Tiredness and lack of energy during the day

Headaches in the morning

Sore throat or dry mouth upon waking

Restless sleep

When Should You Seek Treatment For Snoring and Sleep Apnea?

When snoring or sleep apnea starts affecting the quality of your life

When other health conditions are present and can exacerbated due to sleep apnea

When snoring or sleep apnea is affecting your relationships

When you suspect that you or someone you known may have sleep apnea or snoring

E] Treatments For Sleep Apnea And Snoring:

While sleep apnea and snoring may affect your life, there are effective treatments for both conditions. Listed below are the top treatment options that can improve your quality of life and reduce the negative health consequences associated with sleep apnea and snoring.

Myofunctional Therapy improves muscle strength and coordination in the oral and facial muscles, reducing snoring and sleep apnea.

Sleep Appliances uses devices, such as Silensor, GNM Orthotics, Dorsal Sleep Appliance, and ProSomnus LP Continuous Advancement Sleep Device and many more to treat sleep apnea and snoring.

Airway Orthodontics improves the position of the teeth and jaw to open up the airway and reduce snoring and sleep apnea.

Tongue Tie Release (Functional Frenuloplasty Procedure) improves tongue function and reduces airway obstruction who are dealing with tongue-tie-related snoring and sleep apnea.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine provides a constant flow of air pressure that keeps the airway open during sleep, making it an effective treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine

Don’t let snoring disrupt your sleep quality or put your health at risk! Get in touch with us today to find effective solutions for your snoring or sleep apnea.

Make An Enquiry


Understanding the differences between snoring and sleep apnea is important for proper diagnosis and treatment. Since snoring can lead to sleep apnea, it is necessary to seek medical help for both conditions. A healthcare specialist will help advise you on the proper treatment options, which include myofunctional therapy, sleep appliances, tongue tie treatment, and CPAP machines.

So, if you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from snoring or sleep apnea, we advise you to seek medical help at the earliest.

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