If I Snore, Do I Have Sleep Apnea?

Oct 07, 2016, by Dr. Becky Coats

As awareness of sleep apnea and its connection to snoring increases, many snorers want to know what’s the likelihood they have sleep apnea.

But depending on the source you look at, you might get very different answers to this question. One sleep expert told NPR, that only 5-10% of snorers have sleep apnea. But another expert quoted by the Chicago Tribune gave a much higher proportion: from 50-80% of snorers have sleep apnea.

Let’s take a look at some of the studies that have been done on this connection.
Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea

Habitual Snorers Very Likely to Have Sleep Apnea

The reason why experts quote such disparate numbers is that not enough study has been done on this question. Fortunately, there are some studies we can use. One study looked at 404 snorers who had been referred for home sleep testing. When these people underwent a home sleep test, 308 (76%) had sleep apnea. This includes all degrees of sleep apnea: mild, moderate, and severe. This is likely an overestimation, but it’s at least a starting point.

So let’s look at another study that identified how many snorers had sleep apnea. A study trying to correlate snoring volume and sleep apnea severity found that 87% of their population of habitual snorers had sleep apnea. Again, this is likely an overestimation, because all these people had been referred for sleep tests, likely because of sleep apnea symptoms. But it shows that habitual snorers may be very likely to have sleep apnea.

If You’re a Snorer with Symptoms, You Should Be Tested

These studies show us that over 75% of snorers and nearly 90% of habitual snorers referred to sleep centers have sleep apnea. So if your doctor is recommending a sleep study, you should definitely get one.

But if your doctor hasn’t recommended a sleep study–many of them won’t be aware of the condition and its risks–you have to take action. You should get tested for sleep apnea if you’re a snorer who:

  • Experiences daytime sleepiness
  • Nods off while driving, working at a desk, or watching TV
  • Has been diagnosed with high blood pressure
  • Has been diagnosed with low testosterone, hypothyroidism, or depression–but treatments aren’t working

And remember, your risk of sleep apnea increases if you are a habitual snorer, or if you snore loudly.

We can help you get a sleep apnea test from a sleep doctor, and make sure you understand your treatment options. We can even help you eliminate snoring if you don’t have sleep apnea. For help with snoring or sleep apnea in the Dallas area, please call (817) 481-6888 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the BITE center in Grapevine, TX.