Has your partner been complaining about the noise you make at night? Snoring is a very common problem that affects about 90 million Americans, but don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s just an annoyance. While snoring is sometimes relatively harmless, in other cases it’s a sign of severe sleep disorder. How can you tell the difference, and what can you do about it?
What is Snoring?
If the muscles in the back of your throat collapse, your tongue will fall into that area; this causes the throat to narrow and the tissues to vibrate, which is the source of the sound of snoring. The noise becomes louder as the throat becomes narrower.
What are the Stages of Snoring?
There’s three categories of snoring based on how loud it is. Mild snoring is the least serious; it may bother others, but it won’t seriously affect your health. However, it can eventually progress to upper airways resistance syndrome (UARS), which causes more heavy, labored breathing. At this point, you might suffer from insomnia or wake up frequently during the night.
Eventually, UARS could eventually turn into obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); at this point, the snoring will be very loud, and – more importantly – your breathing will frequently pause while you’re asleep. You might make choking or gasping sounds, and your body will wake you up very briefly so that you can get some oxygen. If you have high blood pressure, experience excessive fatigue during the day, suffer headaches and dry throat in the morning, or have developed depression, they could be the result of OSA.
What Happens if You Ignore Severe Snoring?
If you have OSA, ignoring it can have grave effects on the quality of your life. You’ll be much sleepier during the day, and you’ll have a higher risk of getting into an accident on the road or at work. Furthermore, long-term OSA has been associated with heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and other life-threatening issues; you might also gain weight, which can make sleep apnea even worse. Needless to say, you’ll want to have the disorder treated as quickly as possible so that you – and the people around you – can enjoy a full, healthy night of sleep again.
What Can You Do About Severe Snoring?
In many cases, OSA and USA can be treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines; these devices pump oxygen into the throat via a mask over the nose and mouth. Patients who can’t rest with the noise of the machine might get oral appliances instead. The appliance adjusts your jaws in a way that keeps your airway open, letting you breathe normally and stopping your snoring.
If you’ve been told you snore – or have noticed possible symptoms of OSA – you should contact a sleep apnea doctor as soon as possible. They’ll be able to diagnose your symptoms and get you the treatment you need. You and your loved ones deserve a peaceful night’s sleep; don’t let harmful snoring disrupt it!
About the Author
Dr. Dustin C. Lively is a native of Magnum who works every year to learn more about sleep dentistry so that he can offer the best care and service possible to his community. He’s undergone advanced training so that he can create custom-made sleep appliances for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. To schedule an appointment at his sleep apnea practice, EZ Sleep Solutions, visit his website or call (580) 782-2027. a1b11ae10000