Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous disorder where a person repeatedly has sleep disruptions. These sleep disruptions occur when the person stops breathing for varying amounts of time while asleep.
There are three types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form, occurring when the throat muscles relax during sleep. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain doesn't send the right signals to the muscles controlling breathing. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is where both forms exist at the same time and can potentially be a life-threatening problem.1‘Sleep Apnea.’ Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 July 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20377631
Loud snoring is commonly associated with all forms of sleep apnea, but the two aren't mutually inclusive. People may snore without having sleep apnea. Others who do have sleep apnea may not snore.
This symptom is commonly diagnosed after another person, like a spouse or parent, notices loud snoring over several nights. Those who sleep alone may notice a sore throat, dry mouth or headache upon waking that indicates snoring. When snoring is thought to be happening regularly, a doctor may recommend a sleep study. Sleep studies may also be recommended for those who have been told they snore by others.