Do you wake up most nights due to snoring or your partner’s snores? You are not alone. Many people tend to snore in their sleep at some point in their lives. Is snoring dangerous? Well, in some cases it can be.
It is observed that snoring is more common in men. Nearly 40 percent of adult men and 24 percent of adult women suffer from snoring and its side effects. Often, snoring runs in families. The probability of snoring in sleep increases with age.
Many often assume that snoring as an embarrassing or annoying habit. However, you must know that snoring is not a “habit”. It is a side effect of sleeping, mostly caused due to a breathing disorder. When you snore, the tissues in the back of your throat vibrate due to the flow of air you breathe in as you sleep. The sound of snoring occurs when you breathe in the air; the sound usually comes through the mouth, nose, or through both. Snoring can occur at any stage of your sleep cycle.
In some cases, sleeping on the back can increase the chances of snoring. Also, some people tend to snore when the throat muscles relax from the use of depressants such as alcohol. You may also snore if there is congestion from allergies or cold. The result is that you may not have a restful sleep and end up with a dry mouth or even an irritated or sore throat when you wake up. Apart from these side effects, what are the dangers of snoring?
Dangers of snoring
Infrequent light snoring is perfectly normal. It does not disrupt the quality of your or your partner’s sleep. Only if you are a heavy snorer, then you should worry. Most often, heavy snoring is often linked to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and a number of associated health problems like heart diseases and depression.
1. Obstructive sleep apnea – This is an extremely serious sleep disorder, which causes breathing to repeatedly pause and start during sleep. Although there are different types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is more common. It occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep and block the airways, causing snoring. It also causes breathing to stop temporarily during sleep. If you regularly feel tired during the day despite sufficient sleep, you may have sleep apnea. Another telltale symptom is when your snoring is accompanied by a gasping or a snoring sound. Sleep apnea can be fatal because you stop breathing in your sleep. However, treatments and surgeries are available to keep the airway open when you sleep and avoid the effects of sleep apnea.
2. Heart disease – Snoring due to sleep apnea is also sometimes associated with cardiovascular disorders such as coronary artery disease and high blood pressure that increases the risk of a heart attack. It has been observed that those with sleep apnea have twice the probability of suffering from nonfatal heart disease and fatal heart attacks. The risk can be reduced by treating sleep apnea with a treatment involving continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
3. Stroke – In some cases, heavy snoring can also increase the risk of carotid atherosclerosis. This happens when the arteries in the neck become narrow due to plaque, which are fatty deposits. This can result in a stroke. If your snoring becomes louder each time you snore, it might be a cause for concern. This is because as the intensity of your snoring increases, the risk of stroke also increases. Moreover, the risk of stroke increases if you have preexisting high blood pressure. It is advisable to consult a doctor if you have daytime sleepiness or your breathing stops during sleep.
4. GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD is generally observed in people who are heavy snorers or suffer from sleep apnea. Nearly 60 percent of the people who have obstructive sleep apnea have GERD. This generally happens because of the abnormal way in which the throat closes when the air flows during sleep. This leads to pressure changes in the diaphragm and the chest cavity, which can cause food to flow back into the esophagus from the stomach leading to GERD symptoms.
5. Injury – This is considered as one of the major dangers of snoring, which causes sleep deprivation. Some people with extreme snoring problems may experience intense daytime sleepiness because they could not have a restful sleep due to snoring or sleep apnea. They can be so exhausted that they may have the risk of falling asleep, even when they are in the middle of an activity such as driving. This increases the risk of injury.
6. Arrhythmias – If you suffer from long-term snoring or sleep apnea, you may also be at the risk of having arrhythmia. It is caused due to irregular heart rhythm. It has been observed that people who have sleep apnea have a higher probability of having episodes of atrial fibrillation, one of the most common types of arrhythmia. In some cases, sleep apnea or long-term heavy snoring can also affect the cardiac conduction system. In some cases, the left atrium of the heart also enlarges over time due to the effects of obstructive sleep apnea.
7. Mental health issues – Studies have found that sleep apnea can be one of the significant causes of major depression. Although it is not necessary that you have depression if you snore, but the symptoms of sleep apnea have been often found to be associated with many depression symptoms. Other mental health issues associated with long-term heavy snoring and sleep apnea include crankiness due to lack of sleep and symptoms of anxiety.
8. Nocturia – People with this condition tend to get up two or more time at night to use the bathroom. In some cases, a person may also experience bladder control. Nocturia is often observed in both men and women who are heavy snorers or have sleep apnea. According to studies, men above 55 years who tend to wake up often to urinate may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and benign prostate enlargement.
Occasional light snoring is quite harmless. It is only when you become a frequent heavy snorer and start experiencing symptoms that prevent you from being productive, you should start treating it. Consult a doctor and follow a snoring treatment method that will prevent your snoring from aggravating and avoid the dangers of snoring.