We all just want to sleep after a long day at work or at school. You can’t wait but to hit the sack and get some well-deserved snooze and recharge for the next day. But getting a good night’s sleep is not always possible with the many distractions in our life right now – and I’m not just referring to surfing the internet until the wee hours of the morning.
A lot of people snore. And it can deprive you of a much-needed sleep as it does to your spouse. But if snoring does not just prevent you from sleeping but also leaves you feeling exhausted in the morning, then it is not just a simple case of snoring but a more serious condition known as sleep apnea.
Medical professionals reveal that snoring indicates more serious health issues.
Annoying and more often than not, disruptive, snoring is the most common problem affecting more than 90 million Americans of both genders and all ages.
The National Sleep Foundation says 37 million Americans snore on a regular basis.
More than an annoyance, snoring is body’s way of telling you something is wrong, according to doctors. It has many causes and the trick is to find out why you snore, which is difficult.
Patients diagnosed with sleep apnea snores.
Sleep Apnea happens when the person actually stops breathing briefly during sleep. It’s a condition doctors said can lead to heart disease, stroke and even death.
But how serious can snoring really get?
Snoring can be caused by narrowing of the airway in the nose or throat and may occur nightly. It may be related to intermittent obstruction with a respiratory infection, such as the common cold, that will resolve spontaneously. Congenital facial or airway abnormalities can also lead to snoring. More worrisome is snoring caused by intermittent blockage to airflow in the back of the throat which is called obstructive sleep apnea.
What serious health issues people who snore and has been diagnosed with sleep apnea face?
Snoring can be an early sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a very common problem, estimated to occur in 15 percent to 20 percent of adults. Sleep apnea is caused by intermittent relaxation of the tongue and muscles in the mouth and throat. When the tongue relaxes during sleep, it falls back in the throat and blocks breathing. This blockage may last anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or more. As a result, sleep is disturbed and less oxygen is available to the body. The combination of the blockage and the reduced oxygen levels creates stress on the heart, brain and other organs. If snoring is the result of sleep apnea, this represents a very important and serious disorder that needs to be treated. Severe untreated sleep apnea can lead to poor control of blood pressure, poor management of diabetes, heart rhythm irregularities, heart failure and stroke. It can also be responsible for daytime sleepiness.
In addition to health-related challenges, being excessively tired during the day can cause other problems. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to severe daytime sleepiness, which can cause cognitive impairment with decreased memory, focus and concentration. These can severely compromise the way work, school and other activities are performed. Many times, people are not even aware that interrupted sleep at night is causing these disruptions.
Excessive sleepiness can also jeopardize driving. It is widely recognized that many motor vehicle crashes are the direct result of sleepiness from untreated sleep apnea. This is such a significant problem that it is becoming a common practice for high-risk commercial drivers to be tested for sleep apnea. Recent data has shown a marked reduction in motor vehicle crashes in truck drivers who have been treated for previously undiagnosed sleep apnea.
Do not hesitate to see a sleep specialist if snoring is increasingly becoming a problem for you, not just in affecting sleep quantity and quality but in putting you at risk of more life-threatening conditions or even lead to death.
There is a cure as long as you ask for help. Wearing anti-snoring mouthpieces while sleeping is a popular management for people who snore and it won’t hurt if you give it a try. Even simple lifestyle modifications like losing weight and reducing alcohol intake can reduce snoring episodes too.
But probably the best way to address a snoring/ sleep apnea issue is to undergo a sleep study, so your doctor can assess your condition properly and come up with the best medical management for your particular case.