Skip to main content

How Is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome Different from Sleep Apnea?

How Is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome Different from Sleep Apnea?

Upper airway resistance syndrome and sleep apnea cause snoring and impact sleep quality, but the two conditions differ slightly. Left untreated, both can impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep and affect your overall health.

Below, Dr. David Blaustein at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics in New York City highlights how these conditions are similar and different and how they’re treated. He can help determine which one you’re dealing with so you can get started improving your sleep quality.

All about upper airway resistance syndrome

Just because you snore doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. For example, many people snore more when they have a cold. But, outside of a cold or other illness, snoring indicates resistance in your upper respiratory system. 

Upper airway resistance syndrome is when the soft tissue in your throat relaxes and your airway narrows slightly. The more resistance the loose tissue causes, the harder it is for air to pass through your airway. 

This condition doesn’t allow adequate airflow while you sleep and can contribute to:

Upper airway resistance syndrome isn’t as serious as sleep apnea, but it’s more than just innocent snoring. 

All about sleep apnea

Sleep apnea causes similar symptoms as upper airway resistance syndrome, but the symptoms are more intense. 

The three types of sleep apnea are central, obstructive, and combination. The most common, obstructive sleep apnea, is most similar to upper airway resistance syndrome. Both are exacerbated by loose or excess tissue.

Sleep apnea causes breathing interruptions while you sleep. Common symptoms include intense snoring, waking up frequently gasping for air, having morning headaches, and struggling with daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea often keeps people from feeling refreshed in the morning.

Upper airway resistance syndrome vs. sleep apnea

The symptoms of sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome are similar, but upper airway resistance syndrome tends to be less severe.

Another significant difference is the number and intensity of pauses in breathing. Sleep apnea is notorious for frequent episodes of stopped breathing. They last only a moment but are long enough for your brain to wake you up and disrupt your sleep. 

People with upper airway resistance syndrome don’t usually experience these moments of disrupted breathing; if they do, the episodes are much milder.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone, but it’s more common in people who are overweight or obese. In such cases, losing weight can help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. Interestingly, though, people with upper airway resistance syndrome tend to be of average weight.

Do you have upper airway resistance syndrome or sleep apnea?

Without treatment, upper airway resistance syndrome can become sleep apnea, so seek treatment if you suspect you have either one. 

Here at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics, Dr. Blaustein conducts an oral exam, reviews your X-rays, and discusses oral appliance therapy with you. Oral appliances treat upper airway resistance syndrome and sleep apnea by positioning your jaw as you sleep so your airway stays open. 

If you snore and wake up feeling unrefreshed, you may have one of these conditions. To schedule a visit to our office, conveniently located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, give us a call or request your appointment online today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Why Does My Jaw Pop When I Chew?

You might not think about your jaw until it hurts, clicks, or pops. If you’re wondering why your jaw pops when you chew, read on to learn about the potential culprits and how we can help.