What is Snoring?
Snoring is the annoying sound that a lot of people make while sleeping. It is caused by air moving into and out of our lungs as it passes through a narrowed portion of the throat. We have a need to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide to maintain life. If your airway becomes constricted , the air passing through it must accelerate to keep the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide constant. This more rapidly moving air causes the soft tissue of the throat to flutter, producing the noise we know as snoring.
Our airway can become narrowed due to weight gain, loss of throat muscle tone, and loss of the elasticity of the soft tissues of the throat.
Oftentimes, the narrowing of the airway (and snoring) can progress to the point of … silence! This is known as sleep apnea, a condition where there is no air entering or leaving the lungs. This can be a very significant health problem.
Snoring Can Be Dangerous.
There are many studies in medical journals indicating that the risk of heart attack or stroke is greatly increased in those who have untreated sleep apnea. Other significant problems are:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- An increased rate of motor vehicle accidents
- Mood disorders
- Attention deficit
- And on and on….
What Can I Do?
There is treatment. A sleep test can be performed in the patient’s home or at a lab and there are several methods to eliminate snoring and sleep apnea.
Snoring is annoying, but it may be the warning that there are more important issues to be treated.
Don’t ignore snoring. Sleep apnea can be a killer, and those who are trained in diagnosing and treating it can be life savers.