There may be a lot more to that dreaded snore!
Does your mate have bags under his or her eyes every morning? There may be nothing wrong with your partner other than the fact that he or she is losing a great deal of sleep because you’re snoring!
Does your own snoring sometimes wake YOU up? Do you sometimes wake up in a start, gasping because you’ve stopped breathing? If so, you could have a very serious medical problem.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing or has shallow breaths while sleeping. These stoppages are sometimes just seconds, but can last minutes. During these pauses, the sleeper doesn’t simply stop breathing, but struggles to breathe. When he finally does, there is usually a loud snort or choking sound.
When you snore, that’s a sign that you’re struggling to breathe and it could indicate sleep apnea. Not only does sleep apnea deprive your brain and lungs of oxygen, it deprives you of sleep, leaving you tired and sluggish during waking hours.
Sleep apnea can result in severe medical conditions, including stroke, heart attack and hypertension, not to mention the increased risk of motor vehicle crashes when drivers are sleepy. A recent study at Johns Hopkins University found that among middle-aged and elderly men, sleep apnea increased the risk of death by 40 percent from all causes, but especially from cardiovascular disease.
Sleep apnea is very common, affecting about one in four men and one in ten women. Those most at risk are over the age of 40 and overweight. Besides snoring, symptoms of sleep apnea include waking with a dry or sore throat; daytime sleepiness after a full night’s sleep; morning headaches; forgetfulness; and insomnia or not being able to sleep through the night.
If you are a notorious snorer or have any of these other symptoms, talk to your doctor. Sleep apnea is not something that will be diagnosed during a routine physical or with a blood test. You must report your symptoms to your doctor.
There are behavioral changes that can be made to correct sleep apnea including losing weight and stopping smoking. Special pillows that promote side sleeping or dental devices that keep the airway open may help, as well.
In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A CPAP mask is attached to a machine and worn while you sleep. The machine delivers a continuous flow of air into the nostrils, keeping the airways open so that breathing is not impaired.
In some cases, surgery may be required to repair a deviated septum or remove soft tissue from the mouth, back of the throat or upper airway, thereby reducing obstructions and increasing the size of the airway. These are all relatively simple surgical procedures and you can learn about all your options by simply consulting with your mountain physician.