It is our normal tendency to laugh at people we see snoring loudly! But, regardless of its sound and appearance, snoring is no laughing matter. In the opinion of doctors, snoring is an indicator of a serious health condition. However, unfortunately, the person snoring is normally never aware of the trouble he may be causing to himself/herself and others. Since snoring has become so common, people often shrug it as something trivial and of no potential threat.
We all snore from time to time, but the habit is most commonly seen in overweight people and men in particular. The condition can get worse with age and the real problems start surfacing when it becomes chronic. Habitual snoring can significantly hamper the snorer’s sleep and must be treated medically without delay. It may even result in a condition more sinister, known as sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea is a type of disorder which is characterized by abnormally low breathing or abnormal pauses while breathing. The most common version of this condition is referred to as obstructive sleep apnoea. People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea are usually unaware of their condition, and may often complain of sleepiness and tiredness during the day. Sleep apnea can even occur in babies. Their condition becomes such that they even fall asleep in between activities, without even realizing, and may require regular naps during the daytime. Other symptoms of this condition include frequent urination at night, irritability, poor concentration and morning headaches.
Both sleep apnoea and snoring are closely related. It can be said that snoring is nothing but a milder version of sleep apnoea. While in case of snoring, the person experiences partial restriction in the airways, in sleep apnoea, his/her airways get completely restricted. The peculiar sound produced while snoring is created as a direct result of air forcing it is way out through the restricted airway, causing the throat tissues to vibrate. In terms of noise, the sound produced while snoring can go up to around 80 dB, the level at which the person may even suffer from hearing damage in the long-term.
The condition of sleep apnoea blocks the airways and limits the air supply to such an extent that the person experiences a major drop in his/her oxygen levels, causing him/her to wake up from the sleep suddenly, gasping for air. Any sleep disorder, wherein the condition becomes severe enough that you stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a stretch, is the definitive characteristic of sleep apnoea. These cycles can get repeated many times at night. Every time you wake up, your brain releases certain stress hormones which prevent you from going back to sleep again. The condition also increases the cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and in the severest of cases, the patient may actually go without breathing for a complete minute, without even waking up.
Statistics reveal that over half of the adult Americans snore. Every 1 in 15 adults experiences moderate breathing hindrances. The sleep disorder assumes dangerous proportions as the person gets older and puts on weight. Typical patients who suffer from this condition are middle-aged men. However, it’s not just adults who get affected. Almost 1% to 3% of children, especially the ones with enlarged adenoids or tonsils suffer from sleep apnoea. Women before or after menopause, people with head injuries, obesity or diabetes are also highly vulnerable to this disorder.
Although people who snore regularly, also suffer from the condition of sleep apnoea, not everyone who is affected by disorder may snore. As per estimates, around 10% of snoring people, are actually affected by sleep apnoea. The only method of ascertaining whether you suffer from breathing cessation is by undergoing a sleep study. Every 1 in 3 individuals who actually have sleep apnoea, are aware of this condition. When we talk about the difference between sleep apnoea and heavy snoring, the best way to explain it is – while sleep apnoea is a type of disease, snoring is one of its symptoms.
Anyone suffering from sleep apnoea must never take this condition lightly, as it has the potential of even turning life-threatening. High blood pressure, low oxygen levels and broken sleep patterns are only the initial problems. If ignored, sleep apnoea can significantly enhance the risk of decreased libido, personality disorders, depression, heart diseases, high blood pressure, memory difficulties, irregular heartbeat and heart attack. It can also significantly contribute to the worsening of post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares.
Furthermore, drowsiness during the daytime can cause loss of productivity at work and even accidents. Studies have revealed that drivers suffering from sleep apnoea are more vulnerable to accidents than the ones who have over the limit blood alcohol levels. All in all, neglecting sleep apnoea can seriously decrease your lifespan.
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Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!