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Snoring and Associated Health Risks

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Do you or someone you live with snore? Listening to someone snore can be a nightmare in itself but when it’s you and you wake up grasping for air that is even worse. The frightening part of hearing someone is that sometimes it sounds like the sufferer stops breathing – they don’t realize it, but you certainly do. Snoring has causes just like any other condition. Snoring has even broken up some friendships and marriages. Isn’t good to know that snoring has physical causes, just like other conditions. Some of the physical causes of snoring are: elongated tongue palate, thick throat tissue, and narrow or blocked nasal passages oftentimes due to allergies. Snoring can also be brought on by a temporary condition like a cold, a sinus infection or even a dry throat but “habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea creates several problems, including:

  • Breathing interruptions -- this is where there are long pauses in breathing of more than 10 seconds caused by blockages of the airway. • Sleeping interruptions or waking up often. A lot of people get this mixed up with light sleeping. Those affected by sleep apnea purposely try to keep their throat muscles tense enough to maintain airflow.
  • Strain on the heart comes from prolonged suffering from sleep apnea. As a result, the sufferer is susceptible to high blood pressure and may have an enlargement of the heart, making heart attack and stroke more likely.
  • Most individuals who suffer from sleep apnea often complain of being tired during the day. This is usually from a poor night’s sleep which leads to drowsiness during the day. www.webmd.com

According to Cleveland Clinic, some treatments for sleep apnea, are:

  • Losing weight for those overweight which may reduce the number of apnetic events.
  • Maintain a healthy diet avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back and use a nasal decongestion or breathing strips to reduce snoring and improve airflow.
  • Another treatment is the CPAP machine. CPAP, continuous positive airway pressure, is an airblower that forces air through the nose and mouth. “The air pressure is adjusted so that it is just enough to prevent the upper airway tissues from collapsing during sleep. The pressure is constant and continuous. CPAP prevents airway closure while in use.
  • Lastly, Surgery— There are many types of surgical procedures, some of which are performed as outpatient procedures. Surgery is reserved for people who have excessive or malformed tissue obstructing airflow through the nose or throat, such as a deviated nasal septum, markedly enlarged tonsils, or small lower jaw with an overbite that causes the throat to be abnormally narrow. These procedures are typically performed after sleep apnea has failed to respond to conservative measures and a trial of CPAP.” www.my.clevelandclinic.org

If you or someone you know have chronic snoring, it is advisable to get tested for sleep apnea. Getting tested will help to prevent chronic diseases like heart attacks and strokes. See your doctor.

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