Snoring is often viewed as just a nuisance or is even the subject of jokes, but it can be a symptom of something much more serious.
In this blog, the sleep specialists at eos sleep discuss the effects that snoring has on your health and whether it can actually be fatal.
What is snoring, and how does it affect your health?
If you snore, the sound you’re making is caused by the vibration of tissues in your throat while you sleep. As you move into a deeper stage of sleep, muscles in the roof of your mouth, tongue, and throat relax.
The tissues in your throat also relax and may partially obstruct your airway. If the airway is too narrow, the flow of air becomes more forceful. This causes the tissues to vibrate more, which creates the familiar sound of snoring.
Occasional snoring is often nothing to worry about and can be caused by something as simple as temporary nasal congestion from a cold. But if you’re a chronic loud snorer, it could be an indication that you have sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder. It’s characterized by repeated pauses in breathing that may occur hundreds of times a night.
What are the health risks associated with sleep apnea?
When you have sleep apnea, your brain signals your throat muscles to tense in order to enable more air to flow to your lungs. This interrupts your sleep cycles and causes your sleep to be disrupted, even though you’re not aware of it.
In addition, sleep apnea reduces the percentage of oxygen in your blood, which allows carbon dioxide levels to build up. This can make you feel excessively sleepy during the day and wake up with a headache or sore throat.
As a result of these changes, sleep apnea is associated with an increase in the following serious health risks:
- Fatigue-related driving and workplace accidents
- Type 2 diabetes, since sleep apnea can cause your body to become more insulin-resistant
- Heart attacks
- Arrhythmia – an irregular heartbeat
- Heart failure
- Sudden cardiac death
What are your treatment options?
The type of treatment you’re likely to receive depends partly on the severity of your sleep apnea as well as its cause.
Common types of treatment include the following:
A continuous positive airway pressure machine produces a steady stream of air that helps keep your airway open during sleep. CPAP consists of the machine, a hose, and a mask that you’ll wear over your nose and mouth.
This custom-made device is similar to a sports mouth guard, but it’s worn only at night. It keeps your airways open by keeping your tongue and the tissues at the back of your throat from collapsing.
If less invasive forms of treatment aren’t effective for treating snoring and sleep apnea, surgery may be needed. Many types of minimally invasive procedures are available, such as the Pillar Procedure, palate coblation, balloon sinuplasty, coblation turbinate reduction, laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, laser-assisted tonsil ablation, and radiofrequency ablation of the tongue. Several outpatient surgeries are also available, such as endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) and septoplasty.
If you have chronic snoring, contact eos sleep today for an evaluation. Our sleep specialists will correctly diagnose its cause and help you get the treatment you need to lead the healthiest, longest life possible.