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Health risks posed by snoring could have a significant impact on an individual’s overall health and life expectancy, according to medical experts. Snoring can often result from sleep apnea and is linked to variety of other health disorders. When considering the health risks associated with snoring, keep in mind that individuals whose snoring is caused by severe sleep apnea have a 40 percent higher risk of early death than their peers. If an individual has been diagnosed with sleep apnea or is aware of an issue with snoring, there are several conditions linked to snoring and sleep apnea that affected individuals and their loved ones should know about.
Health data suggests the louder and longer a person snores each night, the greater their long-term risk for a stroke. This correlation has been proven especially true in cases where patients experience daytime sleepiness or if their breathing stops during sleep, both of which are signs of sleep apnea.
Other health concerns, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and other cardiovascular problems, have been linked to sleep apnea. In fact, data suggest that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely to have both nonfatal heart disease events as well as fatal heart attacks. There is effective treatment available for this sleep disorder. The medical community has been highly successful in treating sleep apnea with a machine known as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This treatment has also shown a significant reduction in the risk of heart disease in affected individuals compared to those individuals without sleep apnea.
Another health risk posed by snoring or sleep apnea issues involves the possible development of an arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm). Researchers have also found that people with sleep apnea tend to have episodes of atrial fibrillation, which is the most common type of arrhythmia. While arrhythmias have not developed among people without sleep apnea or by individuals who have been successfully treated with CPAP. However, there is much debate over how an arrhythmia develops–apnea could affect the conductive system of the heart or perhaps obstructive sleep apnea could enlarge the left atrium of the heart over a long period of time resulting in its development.
Another prevalent health issue associated with snorers and among people with sleep apnea is the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux, as it is also commonly known. GERD most likely develops because of the disordered way in which affected individuals close their throat while air circulates during sleep. This affliction causes pressure changes that can force the contents of the stomach in the reverse direction. GERD and sleep apnea have also been linked to obesity and the symptoms of both disorders have been shown to ameliorate with weight loss.
One of the most serious health risks associated with snoring or sleep apnea is injury. Daytime sleepiness could become so overwhelming that it puts affected individuals and the people around them at risk. If snoring or sleep apnea results in sleep deprivation and exhaustion, there is a significant risk of impairment or loss of coordination while performing a variety of activities, such as driving or operating machinery. This loss or impairment of function could result in significant injury to the affected individual as well as others.
Prolonged sleep apnea and snoring could also affect a person’s mental well-being and result in a variety of personality and mental health issues ranging from irritability due to sleep deprivation to serious depression. There is also a well-established link between depression, sleep apnea, and snoring.
Another health issue associated with chronic snorers is the occurrence of headaches. Researchers have found a connection between recurring morning headaches and sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Snorers and sleep apnea sufferers with frequent headaches reported less contentment in life and more distress than those individuals who do not suffer from headaches.
A condition linked with snoring in both men and women that results in the need to awake and make bathroom trips in the middle of the night is known as nocturia. This condition is characterized by the need to use the bathroom two or more times during the night and could include loss of bladder control.
A significant health risk associated with snoring and sleep apnea is obesity. Approximately 50 percent of sleep apnea sufferers are overweight or obese. This condition is partly due to extra weight that collects around the neck and makes it more difficult to keep breathing at night. However, weight loss significantly improves symptoms related to sleep disorders. If an individual is overweight and troubled by snoring, they should consult a doctor regarding a referral to a sleep specialist. Seeking treatment for snoring or sleep apnea issues will help the affected individual, as well as their loved ones, get back to sleep.
Other health risks posed by snoring include fetal complications and reduced sex drive. Similar to higher risk of stroke, reduced sexual satisfaction is linked to the intensity of snoring. The louder an individual snores, the lower their reported sex drive. While risk of fetal complications appear to be linked to weight gain during pregnancy. These complications tend to develop more often in late stage pregnancies.
There are a number of health risks posed by snoring and sleep apnea that could have a significant impact on an individual’s overall health and even affect life expectancy. Snoring can often result from sleep apnea and is linked to variety of other health disorders that could be easily treated or even prevented. Given the fact that severe sleep apnea sufferers have a 40 percent higher risk of early death than their peers, seeking proper treatment for snoring or sleep apnea issues will not only help the affected individual, but their loved ones as well. If a person suspects they could suffer from sleep apnea or is known to snore, hopefully this article will serve as a wake-up call to discuss the situation with a doctor.
By Leigh Haugh