Snoring is More Than Just an Annoyance

Most of us know first hand about the annoyance of a snoring roommate or bedmate. The cacophonous rumbling is difficult to sleep through, sometimes even from the next room. It can cause problems in marriages, relationships and even among platonic roommates. In many cases, we like to poke fun at the habit, but it can be more serious than many realize.

Snoring is a key sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  OSA is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical attention and treatment. The risks of undiagnosed OSA include heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In addition, OSA causes daytime drowsiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and interpersonal relationship problems.

It’s important to note that not all snorers have OSA.  In fact, anywhere from a third to half of the U.S. population snores at least occasionally.  However, those who snore frequently should check themselves for other warning signs of OSA:

  • Snoring with pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental function
  • Poor judgment/can’t focus
  • Memory loss
  • Problem with excess weight
  • Large neck (more than 17″ around in men or more than 16″ around in women)

Treatment of OSA includes behavior modification, mouth guards, and, for the more severe cases, use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (C-PAP) machine.

If you suspect you may have OSA, consult your doctor immediately.  For a very detailed rundown of OSA symptoms and treatments, visit the AAOMS website.