To many people, snoring is an annoying habit that causes loud noises at night and reduced comfort during sleep. While snoring is relatively frequent among the masses, it might also indicate other health problems. Perhaps the most significant are issues related to sleep apnea. Indeed, apnea-related snoring increases your chances of contracting heart disease, stroke, excessive daytime fatigue, and high blood pressure.
If you or your partner has chronic snoring during sleep, you should consider getting a professional checkup as soon as possible. What starts as an annoying habit may be indicative of more severe health complications down the road. So how can you differentiate between harmless and potentially harmful snoring?
Symptoms and Causes of Snoring
Snoring occurs when the tissue around your throat relaxes, causing you to produce loud noises whenever air flows past this area. The relaxed muscles vibrate as air flows by, and this produces sounds that we now call snoring. In most cases, snoring is harmless. The muscle tissue around your throat may relax due to alcohol consumption before bed, old age, or sleeping position. People with unusually long throats or larger tonsils may also be more prone to snoring.
Symptoms of Harmful Snoring
In some patients, snoring is a significant health risk because it indicates more serious health issues. Other symptoms that may accompany snoring and cause chronic or severe health conditions include:
- Breathing complications while sleeping
- Chest pain during the night
- Difficulty concentrating and a lower attention span during the day
- Regular sore throats in the morning
- Excessively loud snoring
- Feeling sleepy during most of the day
Many people experience breathing interruptions regularly during the night. When breathing stops, they may be triggered to wake up with a gasp or make a snorting sound so they can get some air. The result is disrupted sleep and lack of enough rest during the night.
How is Snoring Harmful to Your Health?
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, there are more health risks that come with chronic snoring and sleep apnea. These conditions affect the brain, heart, blood vessels, and other parts of the body.
1. Daytime Fatigue and Sleepiness
One of the most common health risks of excessive snoring is daytime fatigue. Because you’re not getting enough sleep at night, you may end up feeling exhausted and sleepy during the day. This affects your ability to concentrate on tasks or perform high-quality work. For example, students may struggle with academic performance because they can’t pay attention during school. Furthermore, workers may be unable to deliver quality results while on the job because they feel drowsy and tired.
2. Heart Disease (Obesity)
If your snoring is caused by being overweight, nasal congestion, or excessive alcohol consumption, you may end up contracting heart disease over time. Such heart complications are accelerated by high blood pressure (when your blood vessels struggle to pump blood throughout the body), excess weight around the neck muscles (which eventually inhibits the smooth flow of air), and potential stroke.
3. Chronic Headaches
Excessive snoring affects your brain as much as it affects your heart. If you snore and experience regular headaches in the morning, you may not be getting enough sleep during the night. Frequent disruptions of sleep due to blocked airways will eventually make you feel exhausted and struggle with headaches. Such headaches may also contribute to a lack of concentration or performance during the day.
4. Behavioral Complications and Mood Changes
Because of excessive snoring and associated daytime fatigue, additional complications could arise. For example, people who struggle with daytime concentration may eventually develop behavioral changes such as irritability, aggression, and depression. Such individuals may strive to improve their productivity or even suffer ridicule from others because of their unusual drowsiness. The longer the snoring goes on, the worse these symptoms become. This is why you should seek timely treatment for excessive snoring, especially when it results in additional health risks and disruptions to your daily routine.
Seeking Remedies for Snoring
For most patients, snoring is a harmless activity that occurs due to age, alcohol consumption right before bed, sleeping in the wrong position, or sleep deprivation. But if you experience any of the more severe symptoms and health complications mentioned, you should seek professional treatment as soon as possible.
Visiting a sleep apnea expert like Dr. Landry at HS Apnea can help you diagnose harmful snoring and relieve its associated symptoms as soon as possible. For example, we may recommend adjustments to your sleeping position or a reduction in alcohol consumption patterns. We can also use imaging techniques (CT-scans and X-rays) or sleep study data to recommend specific treatment approaches. These include the use of custom sleep appliances that can restore proper airflow. We can help you get the sleep you need and improve your quality of life. Call today to learn more!