It has been estimated that 60% of men and 40% of women between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age snore. Snoring occurs when there is a partial obstruction of the airway which causes the palatal tissues to vibrate. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is completely blocked for certain periods of time. As many as 20 million people in North America may have sleep apnea.
Snoring is a social problem, particularly for the spouse, but obstructive sleep apnea poses a significant health risk for the patient in that it can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and type 2 diabetes.