Snoring is one of the most common complaints for many people, both for those who have to wake up to gasp for air several times during the middle of for those who have to sleep with someone who snores. The unwanted sensation and noise are the least of your problems though if you are a habitual snorer or you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
There are a dozen reasons why snoring should be taken seriously. For starters, habitual snoring makes you more prone to developing life-threatening diseases before reaching 60 years old. Those who have OSA are also 40% more likely to die than those who do not snore said Dr. Karl Doghramji, the director of Thomas Jefferson University’s Sleep Center.
Furthermore, experts at the Henry Ford Hospital say that habitual snoring puts you at higher risk of developing dreaded heart problems than those who have high cholesterol level. Some studies also suggest that habitual snorers are more likely to experience problems with their carotid artery than overweight people and heavy smokers.
Snoring is one scary “common” biological response indeed. How does it put your life in danger exactly? These 12 health risks of snoring will tell you what might happen if you fail to address this valid medical concern:
- Carotid atherosclerosis
This degenerative disease develops when the carotid arteries, one of the two main arteries that transport oxygen from the heart to the brain, get clogged partially due to lower oxygen in the blood and build-up of plaque. This may result to brain damage and immediate death.
When the blood vessels continue to get less oxygen from the lungs, the arteries also get narrower. This results to a clog that almost always leads to stroke. Needless to say, stroke kills regardless of a person’s overall health status.
- Pulmonary hypertension
This is a condition when high blood pressure is present in the arteries that transport blood from the heart to the lungs. It happens when the blood cells constrict because of low oxygen. Although pulmonary hypertension might get better over time even without the help of medical intervention, treating your snoring problem is still a good start to save yourself from this life-threatening condition.
This cardiovascular condition refers to the irregular rhythm of the heart due to the enlargement of the left atrium. This happens when the heart is strained for a long period of time as when medical attention is not sought to treat the cause of snoring right away. The most common type of arrhythmia that a habitual snorer might experience is atrial fibrillation.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Due to the changes in pressure in the esophagus when a person tries harder to breath, some of the acids in the stomach are also sucked into the esophagus, causing GERD. Obese people who habitually snore are more likely to experience GERD.
- Physical injury
Habitual snorers experience more daytime sleepiness than those who do not snore. They feel more tired and less focused on the things that they normally do without much effort, such as driving, cooking, and walking on the side of the road. This makes them more prone to accidents and hence, injuries.
- Mood disorders
The abnormal sleep cycle and mental fatigue of habitual snorers are associated with mild depression and anxiety disorder, especially in people who are facing emotional battles. The chance of a snoring-linked mild depression aggravating into a full-blown clinical depression is low. However, more anxiety symptoms might be more prominent as the snoring aggravates.
- Chronic headaches
Most people who experience chronic headaches due to snoring are the ones who have already developed insomnia. However, with or without insomnia, headaches might still occur during the day and night. This is attributed to the instability of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream of a snorer.
This is a condition where a person partially loses control of his or her bladder while sleeping. A person with nocturia might suddenly wake up to pee once or several times during the entire night, disrupting what should have been a deep and restful sleep. This is not normal as the bladder should have been able to suppress the urge until he or she wakes up. When not treated, this is guaranteed to continuously weaken the bladder and the prostate in men.
- Sexual dissatisfaction
One study that involved more than 800 men showed how snoring affected sexual satisfaction. The study concluded that snoring louder is more likely to lead to sexual dissatisfaction regardless if no other health problems are present. The lower oxygen level in the blood when snoring might be a contributing factor to lower libido. Changes in hormones might also be a factor, although this one is yet to be ascertained.
On the other hand, women whose partners snore loudly are less likely to get turned on in bed. It seems that snoring is not sexy after all.
- Fetal complications
Snoring is likely to happen during the last trimester of pregnancy because this is the time when weight starts to go up. Unfortunately, this change also exposes the baby to higher risk of fetal complications. Doctors cannot pinpoint how snoring affects the health of an unborn infant as of the moment. However, this is commonly attributed to the lack of sleep and lower oxygen that a mother is getting when she habitually snores for almost three months.
Weight gain during pregnancy might be normal, but if it already gives a soon-to-be mother a snoring problem, she might want to consider consulting a doctor as soon as possible.
The specific link between snoring and obesity is unclear, but many experts believe that people who do not get enough sleep because of snoring are more likely to overeat during the day to compensate for their tiredness and inefficient mental concentration. Slower metabolism because of shallow sleep might also be playing a role in the increased risk of obesity.
On the contrary, obese and overweight people are more likely to snore and develop sleep apnea because of the excess fat tissues that surround the neck and apply pressure to the throat while sleeping.
Both habitual snorers and people with sleep apnea are highly exposed to these health risks. They might experience one health risk at a time or several health risks all at the same time. Many of these risks can lead to more serious illnesses and even death. It is not wise to take snoring for granted.