While most people consider snoring a minor nuisance that sometimes disrupts their normal sleep, the reality is that excessive snoring is cause for concern and can be linked to several major health conditions. Some of these risks include heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Snoring can be an even greater issue when it affects the patient’s partner and family by keeping them awake. Here are some of the biggest dangers that snoring poses.
Snoring itself is considered a side effect of a larger problem, but not usually a problem in itself. People who snore regularly can suffer from sleep apnea which makes them more prone to cardiovascular disease, which includes increased chances of heart attacks and coronary artery diseases. In fact, studies have shown that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely to suffer from at least one of these cardiovascular events.
One of the biggest health risks associated with snoring is the chance that the individual stops breathing for a prolonged period of time. Relaxed and weakened muscles in the neck and esophagus can collapse into the airways which disrupts the person’s normal breathing pattern while asleep. The end result is that they may wake up repeatedly when they finally catch their breath, or that they will continue to have lowered oxygen levels in their blood. This is often associated with an increased risk of stroke, pulmonary hypertension, fatigue and chronic headaches.
Depression & Other Mental Health Concerns
Restless sleeping and repeated waking caused by sleep apnea and disrupted breathing can have long term effects on mental health. In many cases, patients become sleep deprived, over-stressed and eventually depressed as they are unable to regain control over their normal sleep schedule. This can ultimately lead to reduced productivity in day-to-day activities and place a strain on their relationships.
Weight Gain and Diabetes
Excessive weight can be both a cause and an effect of snoring and sleep apnea. In some cases, weight built up in the neck area is what causes the airways to collapse during sleep, and half of all people who are clinically overweight or obese also suffer from sleep apnea. Poor sleeping patterns and fatigue can lead to weight gain and sleep apnea as well, leading to a vicious cycle. Increased weight also increases the risk of diabetes.
The good news is that sleep apnea and snoring can be easily treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This treatment involves forcing oxygen into the body through a breathing mask so that the airways are not able to collapse and the patient does not stop breathing. This leads to more restful and uninterrupted sleep, which reduces all of the above risks and also improves sleeping conditions for the patient’s partner and family.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that should not be ignored by those who snore regularly. The chances of a fatal heart attack or other cardiovascular event are doubled with sleep apnea, as well as increased risks of stroke and diabetes. In many cases sleep apnea is also present among people who struggle with being overweight and the condition can add to their symptoms. Lastly, the disruptive sleep patterns caused by sleep apnea have side effects such as fatigue and even depression. All of these can have a negative impact on the health and relationships of the patient both internally and externally, and put increased strain on their body.
For more information about the long term effects of snoring and effective treatment options, please contact the American Sinus Institute today.