Many of us have dealt with or currently deal with a spouse or someone in your household that snores. Maybe even you are the snoring sufferer? While the most obviously side effects are loss of sleep and sleep pattern disruption, there can be some more serious side effects to address.
Let’s take a look at what causes snoring and if it’s something you should have checked out.
Snoring happens when the airway through the nose and mouth are obstructed. There are many causes for this. It could be from a sinus infection, a deviated septum, the throat and tongue muscles being too relaxed, being overweight which causes a bulky throat, or large tonsils and adenoids.
If you are snoring because of the aforementioned sinus infection or maybe a cold, this usually only last a few days. In these cases you generally have no reason to worry about the short-lived snoring. However, if your snoring is an ongoing occurrence then you should take notice about potential health risks and seek some medical attention. If you are not sure you snore on a regular basis you can ask your spouse or if you live alone you can record yourself at night for a few days to see if you snore.
Habitual snoring seems to occur more often in men than women. Studies have indicated that up to 34% of men snore on a regular basis while as many as 50% have reported snoring. This habitual snoring can be a strong sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when your airways are blocked and you have long periods of non breathing. Many times these interruptions in breathing can last for more than 10 – 20 seconds. This can be a very serious and life threatening condition.
Do you have sleep apnea?
The major signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are
- loud and habitual snoring
- choking, snorting or gasping during sleep
- long periods of time between breaths
- sleepiness during the day, even if you had a full night of sleep
- waking with a dry mouth
- irritable, agitated, or depressed
- restless sleep
- frequent trips
- to the bathroom during the night
Effects of untreated sleep apnea
- high blood pressure
- heart attack
- memory loss
- personality changes
So if you think you have sleep apnea, what can be done about it?
The first step is to see your general practitioner for diagnosis and referral to a sleep disorder center. Once you’ve been diagnosed a sleep disorder center will most often perform an overnight test to determine the severity of sleep apnea. For less severe cases a MAS, a mouth guard, can help push the bottom jaw open to free the airway. In more sever cases a CPAP will be required. A CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and pumps air through the upper airway.
Whether you are a part-time or full-time snorer, don’t treat it as something trivial. Get checked out and make sure that further treatment isn’t required. If you need help with determining if you have sleep apnea, feel free to contact our office or book an appointment online. We’ll be more than happy to help!
Here’s to Your Health!
Dr. K Bennett