Anyone who shares a bed or a room with a snorer knows how disruptive it is. You shake the bed, nudge them, and as a last resort, you might even throw your pillow at them. They keep you awake, and they may be causing themselves harm. Is snoring a sign of sleep apnea?
A Simple Snorer
You might be a simple snorer if you have certain physical conditions like large tonsils which block the airway, and if the tissue inside your throat relaxes while sleeping causing a vibration and the sound of snoring. Alcohol and body weight can determine how loud or softly you snore. Having a large tongue, obesity, your age, and the shape of your head and neck can all exacerbate the issue.
At the same time, snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.
An Annoying Behavior vs. A Dangerous Chronic Condition
Obstructive sleep apnea is not something to ignore. It is a chronic condition which can become dangerous if not treated.
It is usually recognized by the sleeping partner.
Common signs include the following:
- Very loud snoring
- Periods where breathing stops
- Choking during sleep and then waking up
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
A person with OSA can stop breathing dozens of times per hour, and the pause in breathing can last 10 seconds or more.
If your partner is experiencing any of these signs, encourage him or her to seek a referral to a specialist like Southern California Ear, Nose, & Throat. A sleep study is the most accurate test to diagnose OSA.
If you sleep alone, and you frequently wake up choking, have dry mouth in the morning with headaches, and you are sleepy during the day, talk with Southern California Ear, Nose, & Throat in Long Beach, Los Alamitos, Torrance, Newport Beach, or Huntington Beach.
Dangers Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It is believed there are 22 million people who have OSA, but many are undiagnosed.
Well known celebrities and sports stars have died in the last few years with complications from sleep apnea. They include James Gandolfino from the Sopranos, NFL star Reggie White, comedian John Candy, Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, and actress Carrie Fisher. Most of these people had other medical or drug related issues, but OSA played a part.
OSA affects our body in the following ways:
- It disrupts circadian rhythm
- Causes imbalances in body and brain chemistry
- Interrupts cardiac and respiratory function
- Elevates blood pressure
- Speeds up our heart rate
OSA is associated with cardiovascular disease. If you don’t have cardiovascular disease, it can increase your risk for developing it along with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In addition, you are more at risk for suffering a heart attack, a stroke, or developing atrial fibrillation.
Contact Southern California Ear, Nose, & Throat today for treatment options if you suspect you may have obstructive sleep apnea.