Is Snoring a Health Issue?

 Is Snoring a Health Issue?

Virtually everyone snores at some point in their lives, though it may be only under certain conditions. Snoring itself is not a health issue, but it can sometimes be a symptom of a potentially serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). 

It may be difficult to know if your snoring is harmful, since it’s sometimes hard to know if you snore at all without someone observing you. But there are some symptomatic clues that you snore as a result of OSA. 

Otolaryngologist Alexis Furze, MD, specializes in the treatment of snoring and, by extension, its causes and consequences. Visit us today to learn more about your snoring condition and its possible complications. 

Why do people snore? 

Whether it’s a health issue or not, all snoring occurs for similar reasons. It’s a common problem, with about 45% of Americans snoring sometimes and as many as one-quarter snoring virtually every day. 

Sounds result from vibrations, and the sounds of snoring are no different. Loose or relaxed tissue at the back of the mouth and throat vibrates when you breathe. There’s naturally an increase in speed as air passes through your throat, since your airway diameter is smaller there. 

As air speeds up, it causes vibration of the soft palate and other tissue. When vibrating with sufficient force, the sounds of snoring appear. 

Is all snoring serious? 

Snoring happens due to the physical conditions of air movement through your mouth and throat. It’s not directly caused by any single condition, and it’s not a sign of a specific health issue. In short, snoring isn’t always a serious health concern. 

Snoring and sleep apnea

While the presence of snoring doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea, you will snore if you have OSA. The obstructions that interrupt your breathing with OSA are the same obstructions that narrow your airways and increase the tissue vibrations that cause snoring. 

In fact, snoring related to OSA often has its own distinct pattern. First, snoring for a patient with OSA is often loud — loud enough to disturb the sleep of a partner sharing the same room. This loud snoring then turns to silence, the point when breathing stops, before a snort or gasp follows, indicating that the breathing cycle resumed. 

This pattern repeats dozens of times a night, upsetting the stages of a patient’s sleep cycle. You may not be aware of this process, since your brain can wake you enough to start breathing without raising your awareness to the point you recognize being awake. 

But it can disturb deep and rapid eye movement (REM) stages of sleep, important parts of the overnight recovery process. When OSA is chronic, it can contribute to health conditions such as increased blood pressure, low blood oxygen levels, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes. 

Dr. Furze can help you find solutions to your snoring and OSA by treating conditions that contribute to airway narrowing. Call our Newport Beach, California, office to schedule a consultation and examination today.

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