Health Risks Associated With Heavy Snoring
Snoring is the sound that is produced when the breathing is partially obstructed while a person is asleep. There are several ways by which the airflow can be obstructed. They include:
- Physical Deformities like deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps. Sometimes, a sinus infection may also block the airflow.
- Poor Tone of the Muscles of the Oropharynx: If the muscle tone of the tongue is poor. It tends to fall back blocking the airway. This especially happens when the person is in deep sleep or under the influence of some drug or intoxicant.
- Obesity: In obese people, the bulky throat muscles can obstruct the airway.
- Long Uvula or Soft Palate: In people who have a long soft palate or uvula, these structures may obstruct the flow of air into the lungs.
- Enlarged Tonsils or Adenoids: Children with enlarged tonsils or adenoids may snore at times.
Although both men and women may have this problem, it is the men who suffer from this condition more. The reason for this discrepancy is not known. In most of the people, snoring is nothing more than an irritant for their partners. However, in certain people, it may be severe enough to cause a condition known as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is similar to snoring except for the fact that the sleep is interrupted by periods of air shortness. It happens because the physical obstructions in the airway are big enough to temporarily disrupt the flow of air into the lungs. A person suffering from sleep apnea is awakened from deep slumber because of shortness of breath. There may be as many as five such episodes every night.
Risks of Heavy Snoring
According to Dr. Karl Doghramji, sleep medicine expert at the Sleep Center at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals, Philadelphia, people suffering from severe sleep apnea have a 40% higher risk of dying earlier compared to other people. This is because they are more likely to suffer from several health conditions. There are several health risks associated with heavy snoring. They include:
- High Risk of Stroke: It has been observed that there is a higher chance of developing atherosclerosis of carotid arteries in people who snore heavily. This, in turn, increases the chances of getting a stroke.
- Increased Risk of Heart Diseases: People with sleep apnea are two times more likely to suffer from fatal and nonfatal heart attacks. This is because heavy snoring increases the chances of high blood pressure and coronary artery diseases. According to experts, giving continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to patients suffering from sleep apnea can help considerably in reducing the chances of heart diseases.
- Increased Chances of Developing Irregular Heart Rhythm: According to sleep experts, sleep apnea hampers the transmission of impulse through the heart tissue. The left atrium enlarges over a period of time leading to episodes of atrial fibrillation.
- Likelihood of Developing Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): irregular movement of air through the airways leads to pressure changes in the gut. These changes may cause reflux of stomach’s content back into the esophagus. This is especially seen in people who are obese.
- Increased Chances of Sustaining Injuries: As the sleep during night is interrupted because of episodes of sleep apnea, these patients tend to be sleepy during the day. This increases the likelihood of sustaining injuries. Patients of sleep apnea should avoid driving alone for this very reason.
“‘Wake Up’ To Health Risks Of Heavy Snoring”, by University of Michigan health System. Published on Feb 15, 2009 in Science Daily, accessed on Apr 25, 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090203140837.htm