Although snoring may seem like a normal-albeit annoying-habit, it can indicate serious health concerns. Loud and chronic snoring often suggests physiological disorders in the snorer, and the noisy condition can also create significant disruptions for the snorer and his or her bed partner. Consequently, “bad snoring is not a laughing matter. It can signify significant medical disease,” warns Kent Wilson of the University of Minnesota.
Snoring and sleep apnea are linked, even though the two conditions are sometimes different disorders. Not everyone who snores is suffering from sleep apnea. That being said, habitual snorers are at risk for other health issues, especially for obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring occurs when airflow through the mouth and nose is obstructed by tissue or similar structures. Often, snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, a critical sleep disorder involving the cessation of breathing in regular episodes. These episodes are usually followed by snoring, choking sounds, or gasping as the body attempts to restore airflow. If left untreated, chronic snoring and related sleep apnea can lead to serious limitations for your health and abilities.
Health risks involved with snoring and sleep apnea include restless sleep, cardiovascular strain, low blood oxygen, chronic headaches, and potential weight gain. Additionally, relationships between snorers and those around them can become tense if the snorer is the subject of teasing or if others become resentful after constant sleepless nights. Finally, safety issues are also an issue for those affected by snoring, as fatigue can increase your risk of accidents and injury.
If you are a heavy snorer (that is, if you snore constantly regardless of your sleeping position), see your doctor for an examination of your nose, mouth, throat, and neck to determine the cause of your snoring and address any related concerns like daytime fatigue. If you doctor suspects that you may have sleep apnea, he or she will likely suggest a sleep test or refer you to a sleep specialist.